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 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

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
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the evidential basis for the decision to stop testing and tracking the contacts of people who potentially had covid-19 during the early phases of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 21 May 2020

Contact tracing has been used throughout the COVID-19 response. It was not stopped.

At the start of the outbreak, when we were in the ‘contain’ phase, we traced the contacts of every case. This helped to delay community transmission and bought time for the National Health Service and country to prepare. As the virus became more widespread and the chains of transmission unclear, the country moved to the ‘delay’ phase, and the contact tracing approach changed. Rather than follow up every case, we focused on specific places such as care homes and prisons to control specific outbreaks and protect those most at risk of infection.

On testing, from the start of the pandemic, our first priority was patients. This was vital in helping clinicians to better understand their condition and ensure they received the best quality care. As our capacity increased, we then expanded testing to other groups.

As we move into the next phase of our response, both testing and contact tracing will play an increasingly important role – that is why we are developing an integrated test and trace programme. This includes a new app which will complement existing web-based and phone-based contact tracing approaches. Alongside this there will be swab testing for anyone reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

This programme will play an important role in helping to minimise the spread of the virus in the future.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what processes he has in place for UK embassies, high commissions and consulates to provide his Department with information on how covid-19 is being handled throughout the world.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 20 May 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials are in regular communication with British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates to monitor COVID-19 developments across the world. Ministers and senior officials also regularly engage with their international counterparts. This includes in multilateral fora such as G7 Foreign Ministers or NATO and bilaterally.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Coronavirus: Vaccination
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional manufacturing capacity there is in the UK for manufacturing a vaccine for covid-19 once one is developed.
A
Answered by: Amanda Solloway
Answered on: 19 May 2020

The Vaccines Taskforce is working with the BioIndustry Association Taskforce to review existing domestic capability to manufacture vaccines, in response to Covid-19. The Taskforce is also reviewing options for increasing this capacity. The Business Secretary recently announced that the government will accelerate building the UK’s first Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, which is based at Harwell in Oxfordshire. The government will invest up to a further £93 million in the Centre, ensuring that it opens in summer 2021 – a full 12 months ahead of schedule. The Centre – which is already under construction – will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as 6 months. While the Centre is being built, the government will establish a rapid deployment facility thanks to a further investment of £38 million to begin coronavirus vaccine manufacturing at scale from this summer. This facility will support efforts to ensure a vaccine is widely available to the public as soon as possible.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Maintenance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the statutory basis is for the Child Maintenance Service to accept only verbal evidence, without supporting documentation, in relation to changes to the paying parent’s financial circumstances.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 19 May 2020

In these unprecedented times, we have seen a significant increase in the number of new claims to UC - it’s right that we look to streamline our operations, and ensure that people get the support they need. No one will get away with giving false information to avoid paying what they owe and all decisions carry rights of appeal, so either parent can dispute a decision.

Those found to be abusing the system at this difficult time will find themselves subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers – including prosecution through the courts.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support families during this public health emergency and we have made a number changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year. People who need money urgently continue to be able to access up to a month’s Universal Credit advance upfront by applying online. In addition, Statutory Sick Pay now applies from day one, rather than the fourth day of illness. In April, in response to Covid-19 we increased Local Housing Allowance rates for housing benefit and universal credit claimants to the 30th percentile of local rents, providing additional financial support for private renters. This significant investment of almost £1 billion, ensures over 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year

Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Grouped Questions: 44974 | 44975
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Child Maintenance Service: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has directed the Child Maintenance Service to introduce greater flexibility in relation to evidence requirements during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 19 May 2020

In these unprecedented times, we have seen a significant increase in the number of new claims to UC - it’s right that we look to streamline our operations, and ensure that people get the support they need. No one will get away with giving false information to avoid paying what they owe and all decisions carry rights of appeal, so either parent can dispute a decision.

Those found to be abusing the system at this difficult time will find themselves subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers – including prosecution through the courts.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support families during this public health emergency and we have made a number changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year. People who need money urgently continue to be able to access up to a month’s Universal Credit advance upfront by applying online. In addition, Statutory Sick Pay now applies from day one, rather than the fourth day of illness. In April, in response to Covid-19 we increased Local Housing Allowance rates for housing benefit and universal credit claimants to the 30th percentile of local rents, providing additional financial support for private renters. This significant investment of almost £1 billion, ensures over 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year

Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Grouped Questions: 44973 | 44975
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Maintenance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to provide support to single parents that have lost child maintenance payments as a result of the Child Maintenance Service accepting unsupported verbal assurances from the paying parent.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 19 May 2020

In these unprecedented times, we have seen a significant increase in the number of new claims to UC - it’s right that we look to streamline our operations, and ensure that people get the support they need. No one will get away with giving false information to avoid paying what they owe and all decisions carry rights of appeal, so either parent can dispute a decision.

Those found to be abusing the system at this difficult time will find themselves subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers – including prosecution through the courts.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support families during this public health emergency and we have made a number changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year. People who need money urgently continue to be able to access up to a month’s Universal Credit advance upfront by applying online. In addition, Statutory Sick Pay now applies from day one, rather than the fourth day of illness. In April, in response to Covid-19 we increased Local Housing Allowance rates for housing benefit and universal credit claimants to the 30th percentile of local rents, providing additional financial support for private renters. This significant investment of almost £1 billion, ensures over 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year

Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Grouped Questions: 44973 | 44974
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what analysis his Department has carried out on the response to covid-19 in (a) South Korea, (b) Taiwan, (c) Singapore, (d) Hong Kong and (e) Australia.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 18 May 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials are in regular communication with British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates to monitor COVID-19 developments across the world. Furthermore, Ministers and senior officials engage their international counterparts regularly. The FCO is looking closely at what others across the world are doing to tackle COVID-19, and is harnessing the UK's diplomatic network to best understand the approaches taken by others.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what analysis his Department has carried out on the response to covid-19 in (a) Austria, (b) Germany, (c) Italy, (d) France, (e) Spain, (f) Sweden, (g) Norway and (h) United States.
A
Answered by: Wendy Morton
Answered on: 18 May 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials are in regular communication with British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates to monitor COVID-19 developments across the world. Furthermore, Ministers and senior officials engage their international counterparts regularly. The FCO is looking closely at what others across the world are doing to tackle COVID-19, and is harnessing the UK's diplomatic network to best understand the approaches taken by others.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
[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: 12 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Intensive Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the NHS plans to restart the (a) collection and (b) publication of data on critical care bed capacity across the NHS.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 May 2020

NHS England data sets are currently under review following communication from the NHS Chief Operating Officer to trusts on 28 March 2020. A date to restart collection and publication of this data has not yet been decided.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) process was undertaken and (b) criteria used to award Serco the contract for putting in place contact tracers; whether that process an open competition; on what date the tendering process started; and which other companies submitted a bid to provide those contact tracers.
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Transport
Public Transport: Food
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what the scientific basis is for the decision to discourage people from consuming food and drink on public transport.
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Railway Stations
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the scientific basis is for the decision to close station waiting rooms rather than allow the partial use of the facilities with social distancing measures in place.
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
[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: 29 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Death
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will publish statistics on the risk of death posed by covid-19, by age group, after removing co-morbidities.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 13 May 2020
Holding answer received on 04 May 2020

Government statistics on the risk of death posed by COVID-19, by age group, ethnic group and gender, after removing co-morbidities, are not currently published.

We have asked Public Health England to review COVID-19 outcomes among different groups to better understand how factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender and obesity could impact on how people are affected, and to explore underpinning reasons for disparities.

We are also supporting the National Institute for Health Research’s call for rapid research proposals on COVID-19 and ethnicity.

Grouped Questions: 41383 | 41384
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
[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: 29 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Ethnic Groups
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will publish statistics on the risk of death posed by covid-19, by ethnic group, after removing co-morbidities.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 13 May 2020
Holding answer received on 04 May 2020

Government statistics on the risk of death posed by COVID-19, by age group, ethnic group and gender, after removing co-morbidities, are not currently published.

We have asked Public Health England to review COVID-19 outcomes among different groups to better understand how factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender and obesity could impact on how people are affected, and to explore underpinning reasons for disparities.

We are also supporting the National Institute for Health Research’s call for rapid research proposals on COVID-19 and ethnicity.

Grouped Questions: 41382 | 41384
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
[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: 29 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Gender
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will publish statistics on the risk of death posed by covid-19, by gender, after removing co-morbidities.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 13 May 2020
Holding answer received on 04 May 2020

Government statistics on the risk of death posed by COVID-19, by age group, ethnic group and gender, after removing co-morbidities, are not currently published.

We have asked Public Health England to review COVID-19 outcomes among different groups to better understand how factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender and obesity could impact on how people are affected, and to explore underpinning reasons for disparities.

We are also supporting the National Institute for Health Research’s call for rapid research proposals on COVID-19 and ethnicity.

Grouped Questions: 41382 | 41383
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Home Office
Biometrics Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she has taken to enable the appointments of the (a) Surveillance Camera Commissioner and (b) Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material when the current post holders terms conclude.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The process to appoint a Surveillance Camera Commissioner and Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, will be made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments (Governance Code), and is under consideration including consultation with the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/578498/governance_code_on_public_appointments_16_12_2016.pdf

As set out in the Governance Code, Ministers are consulted about all the possible recruitment options.

Grouped Questions: 41386 | 41387
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Home Office
Biometrics Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with her officials on the recruitment process for the roles of the (a) Surveillance Camera Commissioner and (b) Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The process to appoint a Surveillance Camera Commissioner and Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, will be made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments (Governance Code), and is under consideration including consultation with the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/578498/governance_code_on_public_appointments_16_12_2016.pdf

As set out in the Governance Code, Ministers are consulted about all the possible recruitment options.

Grouped Questions: 41385 | 41387
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Home Office
Biometrics Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she discussed the forthcoming appointments of the (a) Surveillance Camera Commissioner and (b) Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material with the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The process to appoint a Surveillance Camera Commissioner and Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, will be made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments (Governance Code), and is under consideration including consultation with the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/578498/governance_code_on_public_appointments_16_12_2016.pdf

As set out in the Governance Code, Ministers are consulted about all the possible recruitment options.

Grouped Questions: 41385 | 41386
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 01 May 2020
Home Office
Biometrics Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure appointments to the roles of the (a) Surveillance Camera Commissioner and (b) Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material are done so (a) fairly, openly and transparently and (b) within the other requirements set out by the Government’s Governance Code on Public Appointments.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The appointment of a Surveillance Camera Commissioner and Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material is under consideration and will be made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments (Governance Code), and take account of any possible implications for legal proceedings.

We are committed to empowering the police to use technologies like biometrics within a strict legal framework and will update parliament on our plans shortly.

Grouped Questions: 41893 | 41894
Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 01 May 2020
Home Office
Biometrics Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has for the future of the roles of (a) Surveillance Camera Commissioner and (b) Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The appointment of a Surveillance Camera Commissioner and Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material is under consideration and will be made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments (Governance Code), and take account of any possible implications for legal proceedings.

We are committed to empowering the police to use technologies like biometrics within a strict legal framework and will update parliament on our plans shortly.

Grouped Questions: 41892 | 41894
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