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
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 11 July 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Social Rented Housing: Sales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to tackle the disparity in discounts on properties offered to (a) council tenants and (b) right to buy schemes.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Government remains committed to ensuring that housing association tenants have the opportunity to own their homes at an equivalent discount to that offered to local authority tenants under the statutory Right to Buy. The Voluntary Right to Buy pilot currently underway in the Midlands is a clear demonstration of that commitment and is giving thousands of housing association tenants in the East and West Midlands the opportunity to apply to purchase their homes at Right to Buy level discounts. The pilot will be independently evaluated after completion and future policy decisions will be taken in light of that evaluation.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 11 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Electronic Equipment: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to encourage recycling of electronic waste throughout the UK.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 19 July 2019

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013 sets annual household collection targets, including recycling and recovery targets, for electrical and electronic equipment. Latest available figures for 2017 show that the UK achieved a collection rate of 50%. Under the Resources and Waste Strategy we are reviewing the WEEE Regulations in 2020 to consider improvements to the approach to WEEE.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 11 July 2019
Department for Transport
Electric Scooters
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to allow the use of electronic scooters on roads and cycle paths.
A
Answered by: Michael Ellis
Answered on: 19 July 2019

In the UK, it is illegal to use an electric scooter on public roads and pavements. Electric scooters are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. This means they are subject to laws requiring them to conform to technical standards and be used safely. This includes requirements for users to have insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets. At present, it is difficult for electric scooters to meet these requirements. They are legal for use on private land with the landowners’ permission.

The Department recognises that people want to take advantage of the opportunities e-scooters can offer. The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, published on 19 March 2019 includes a Regulatory Review to address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future.

The regulatory review will include e-scooters and other micromobility devices. This is a broad programme of work, and we expect to publish an initial consultation in autumn this year.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 11 July 2019
Home Office
Personal Records: Databases
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps the Government is taking to prevent the procurement of personal information by criminal organisations.
A
Answered by: Mr Ben Wallace
Answered on: 18 July 2019

The lawful use of personal information in the United Kingdom is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/79 and the Data Protection Act which this Government passed in 2018, and overseen by the independent Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO carries out a wide programme of activity (such as investigation into reported data breaches and audits of organisations’ processing) which helps to ensure that organisations meet their obligations with regard to protecting the personal information they hold from being misused or falling into criminal hands. It can also issue Enforcement Notices requiring organisations to take certain actions, and can impose fines of up to 4% of annual turnover or €20m (whichever is higher) for serious breaches of Data Protection.

The Government has strengthened the law enforcement response to cyber crime, including to disrupt and deter criminal efforts to gain personal information through hacking and other computer misuse offences. Through the National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP), the Home Office has invested over £200 million since 2010, in the law enforcement response to the cyber crime threat, and we continue to invest. In the last year we have seen the launch of specialist Cyber Crime Units in every local police force, supported by funding from Government. We continue to invest in improving the capabilities of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) and of the cyber teams in each of the Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) across England and Wales.

Through the Government’s Cyber Aware programme we have also provided the public and small businesses with the latest advice on how to take simple steps that will protect them and their personal information from cyber crime.

We have launched a new three year programme led by the Home Office to tackle illicit use of the dark web. This will build on the ongoing investigative work of policing and intelligence agencies to disrupt and bring to justice those who use the anonymity of the Dark Web to trade in illegal goods and services, including personal data.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Waste
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to (a) support and (b) incentivise small food and catering businesses to reduce plastic waste.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 10 July 2019

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, published last December, sets out our approach to eliminating avoidable plastic waste. As part of this, we propose to introduce requirements for businesses in England, which would include small food and catering businesses, to present a core set of materials for recycling. We will ensure that smaller businesses are not disadvantaged by these new requirements and, through our consultation on this proposal which closed in May, have sought views on how to help these businesses reduce the costs of waste collection.

The Government also consulted on reforming packaging waste regulations to financially incentivise packaging producers to reduce the use of unnecessary and difficult to recycle packaging, and to produce packaging that can be recycled. These reforms, along with our proposals on consistency of recycling collections, should ensure that more of the plastic used by small food and catering businesses can be and will be recycled.

Q
(Stevenage)
[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: 02 July 2019
Department for Education
Education: Hearing Impairment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support deaf children’s education in the upcoming Spending Review.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 08 July 2019

Our ambition for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including hearing impairments, is exactly the same as for every other child and young person, to achieve well in school and college, find employment and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives.

Over 90% of children identified with hearing impairment as their primary type of need are in mainstream schools. Overall school funding is over £43.5 billion this year. This includes £6.3 billion of high needs funding for children and young people with the most complex SEND, up from £5 billion in 2013.

However, we are well aware that local authorities and schools are facing challenges in managing their budgets in the context of increasing costs and rising levels of demand. We are looking carefully at how much funding for education will be needed in future years, as we approach the next Spending Review.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Public Appointments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer to Questions 256286 and 259982 on NHS: Public Appointments, what the longest period of time is for which NHS posts with salaries above £142,000 are awaiting ministerial sign-off by (a) his Department and (b) HM Treasury.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 05 July 2019

HM Treasury sets the threshold at which ministerial approval is required for ministerial appointments. The threshold was raised from £142,500 per annum to £150,000 per annum in January 2018.

National Health Service posts are not ‘ministerial appointments’ and are therefore not subject to the approvals process set by HM Treasury. However, in 2015 the then Secretary of State set out his policy on taking forward senior pay in the NHS which included the requirement for NHS trusts to seek ministerial approval and NHS foundation trusts and clinical commissioning groups to seek ministerial comment for senior executive pay over the same pay threshold set by HM Treasury.

NHS organisations are not required to seek Departmental approval or comment on salaries of less than £150,000.

As at 1 July, the longest period of time for which the Department have been aware of a proposed NHS post with a salary above £150,000 dates back to 13 March 2019. The case has not yet been presented to Ministers for approval or comment as further information has been sought from the Trust to support the case. This has not yet been received and therefore the case has not yet been presented to Ministers.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Public Health: Hertfordshire
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) improve the quality of and (b) increase access to public health care in (i) Stevenage and (ii) Hertfordshire.
A
Answered by: Seema Kennedy
Answered on: 03 July 2019

Local authorities are responsible for assessing the public health needs of their local population, developing public health strategies and commissioning services to improve the health of their populations.

Local authorities have responsibility for the commissioning of public health services such as sexual health, stop smoking, drug and alcohol services and the NHS Health Check. Public Health England supports local authorities to do this through the provision of national public health campaigns, public health intelligence, evidence-based advice and guidance on what works in practice, commissioning support packs and service assessment and quality improvement frameworks.

At a local level, Public Health England East of England supports local authorities through a series of commissioner networks that share good practice, support sector led improvement and effective service delivery.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment: Chronic Illnesses
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to help people recently recovered from long-term illness find and return to work.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 03 July 2019

DWP is committed to helping people with health conditions and disabilities including those recently recovered from long-term illness, move nearer to the labour market and, when ready, into work, by building more personalised tailored employment and health support. For example:

  • The Work and Health Programme, which rolled out between November 2017 and March 2018, will support around 275,000 people over five years - the majority whom (around 220,000) will be disabled people who can volunteer for the programme at any time.

  • The new Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, which is due to be rolled out across England and Wales at the end of 2019, will provide highly personalised packages of employment support for people with both disabilities and complex barriers to employment who are considered by DWP work coaches to be more than 12 months from the labour market without intensive support.

People who have recently recovered from long-term illness but whose health condition or disability affects the way they do their job can apply for in-work support from Access to Work scheme. Access to Work can also offer support for interviews and voluntary pre-employment opportunities, such as Work Experience and Work Trials, which may lead to paid employment.

In addition, DWP is engaging with employers through the Disability Confident scheme - supporting them to feel more confident about both employing disabled people, including autistic people, and supporting disabled employees to realise their potential. Nearly 12,000 employers have signed up to the scheme so far.

Looking forward, DWP is working in partnership with DHSC to publish a consultation on how employers can best support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to stay and thrive in work. The proposals included in the consultation not only seek to benefit disabled people, but all employees who experience or are at risk of a long term sickness absence.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Out-patients: Attendance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many NHS appointments have been missed in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 03 July 2019

Data for missed outpatient appointments in the years 2013-14 to 2017-18 is provided in the following table. This is a count of appointments, not people, as the same person may have had more than one appointment within the same time period:

Year

Total number of appointments

Did not attends (DNAs)

DNA’s as a % of total appointments

2013-14

101,844,824

7,095,839

7.0%

2014-15

107,188,423

7,442,949

6.9%

2015-16

113,298,661

7,519,829

6.6%

2016-17

118,578,912

7,938,009

6.7%

2017-18

119,378,895

7,984,183

6.7%

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics – NHS Digital

Information surrounding the cost of missed hospital appointments is not collected or held centrally.

Grouped Questions: 269058
Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Out-patients: Attendance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the annual cost to the public purse was of missed NHS appointments in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 03 July 2019

Data for missed outpatient appointments in the years 2013-14 to 2017-18 is provided in the following table. This is a count of appointments, not people, as the same person may have had more than one appointment within the same time period:

Year

Total number of appointments

Did not attends (DNAs)

DNA’s as a % of total appointments

2013-14

101,844,824

7,095,839

7.0%

2014-15

107,188,423

7,442,949

6.9%

2015-16

113,298,661

7,519,829

6.6%

2016-17

118,578,912

7,938,009

6.7%

2017-18

119,378,895

7,984,183

6.7%

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics – NHS Digital

Information surrounding the cost of missed hospital appointments is not collected or held centrally.

Grouped Questions: 269057
Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Flexible Working: Carers and Mothers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps the Government has taken to ensure that (a) mothers and (b) people with primary care responsibilities have access to flexible working.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 02 July 2019

The 2014 revision to the Right to Request Flexible Working provided all employees with the same access to flexible working, seeking to eliminate the view that flexible working is only for parents/carers.

The Government is keen to ensure that the existing “right to request” legislation continues to have the desired effect and has committed to review its impact in 2020. Government has also announced that it will consult on asking employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly, and to make that clear when advertising.

In parallel, the Government is looking to work with employers on a voluntary basis. We have established a Flexible Working Taskforce with representatives from across Whitehall, from key organisations like Carers UK and Working Families, the TUC and key business groups to promote wider understanding and implementation of flexible working practices.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Internet: Disinformation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps his Department has taken to tackle the spread of disinformation and fake news online.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Disinformation is one of the harms in scope of the new regulatory framework for online safety, announced in the Online Harms White Paper. Under this framework, companies will be expected to take proactive but proportionate measures to limit the spread of disinformation on their platforms and help their users understand the information they are receiving.

The White Paper also sets out our plans to develop an Online Media Literacy Strategy to empower users to manage their online safety and make informed choices about online content. We are currently consulting on the measures proposed in the White Paper, and will provide more detail on our approach to tackling disinformation in the Government response to that consultation, which we intend to publish by the end of the year.

We are also considering a wide range of other initiatives to tackle the spread of disinformation and build our population’s resilience. This includes further research to understand the scale, scope and impact of disinformation, as well as continuing work with the tech sector to develop technological responses and strengthen the online environment.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Loneliness: Older People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle social isolation in older people through the digital sector.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Government is committed to helping older people acquire basic digital skills as part of its broader strategy to reduce digital exclusion, as outlined in the Digital Strategy. Through its £400,000 Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund, the Government is supporting three pilot projects aimed at addressing the digital exclusion of older and disabled people. There is evidence that tackling digital exclusion helps mitigate social isolation; The Future Digital Inclusion Programme, funded by DfE and run by Good Things Foundation, shows that 61% are less lonely and 76% feel more connected following involvement in the programme.

Government’s £1million Tech to Connect challenge prize, delivered by Nesta, will fund organisations to tackle social isolation using tech innovation. This will benefit a broad range of groups including older people.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for Education
Performing Arts: Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department taking to fund performing arts education for young people under 18 years-old.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Performing arts education is an important part of a broad and balanced curriculum and should not be the preserve of the elite, but the entitlement of every child. Between 2016-20, the Government is providing almost £500 million funding for a range of creative and performance arts education programmes including the Music and Dance Scheme, and the Dance and Drama Awards.

The Government is also funding performing arts education through their Youth Performance Partnerships scheme which brings arts organisations and schools together to teach practical performance skills both on and off stage. The scheme is providing £5 million in funding between 2018-21 and aims to provide new opportunities for children and young people (aged 8-18) from areas of low cultural engagement and high levels of deprivation to take part in putting on productions, as well as developing backstage and technical skills including dance, art, creative writing, lighting, sound and set design. The Youth Performance Partnerships will be delivered by Arts Council England and will reach 10,000 young people.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Department for International Development
Syria and Yemen: Humanitarian Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment his Department has made of the humanitarian situation in (a) Idlib and (b) Yemen.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 01 July 2019

In Idlib and surrounding areas, the current offensive by Assad’s regime and Russian forces is compounding an already dire humanitarian situation, with 2.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. We are alarmed by UN reports that over 327,500 people have been displaced between 1 May and 13 June and more than 37 schools and 26 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed by airstrikes. DFID is committed to alleviating the suffering among those affected and is working with our partners to scale up our response to meet the growing needs among displaced people, including through the distribution of food, shelter and other essential items.

In Yemen, nearly 80 per cent of the entire population – over 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian assistance and almost 10 million people face extreme food shortages. In response to the crisis in Yemen, the UK has allocated £200 million this financial year alone. This funding will provide food for over a million Yemenis each month, screen 660,000 children under the age of five for malnutrition and provide urgent treatment for 30,000 of the most vulnerable children.

Q
(Stevenage)
[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: 11 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Support for Mortgage Interest
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support his Department provides for disabled individuals who need to move due to the changing nature of their disabilities but may be prevented from doing so due to the recovery of a Support for Mortgage loan.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 17 June 2019

Over time someone’s house is likely to increase in value, so it is reasonable to expect those who have received taxpayers’ help towards their mortgage to repay from the equity released when the property is sold. However, the repayment of the loan should not be a barrier to people improving their lives. We have considered this and I am pleased to announce that we will be introducing the option for home-owners to defer repayment of their SMI loan when moving to a new home. This means that claimants who need to move, for example, because of the changing nature of a disability or for better career opportunities, are not prevented from doing so. These new arrangements require changes to regulations which I will bring forward as soon as the Parliamentary timetable allows.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Local Government Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress he has made on encouraging local authorities to invest more of their reserves in local communities.
A
Answered by: Rishi Sunak
Answered on: 13 June 2019

Councils are free to determine the level of reserves they hold and are accountable to their electorate for the decisions they make. No powers exist to redistribute/reclaim this resource. All local authorities are required to hold sufficient unallocated reserves to meet unforecastable financial risks.

Many council’s reserves are earmarked for particular purposes. Earmarked reserves are funds that are spent at the discretion of the local authority.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 03 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many trees have been planted by the Government since 2010.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 11 June 2019

I refer the Hon. Member to the reply previously given to the Hon. Member for Slough, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, on 14 May 2019 to PQ 252670.

Grouped Questions: 259205
Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 03 June 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress the Government has made towards its target of planting 11 million trees.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 11 June 2019

I refer the Hon. Member to the reply previously given to the Hon. Member for Slough, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, on 14 May 2019 to PQ 252670.

Grouped Questions: 259204
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