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
(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: 26 February 2020
Home Office
Police: Recruitment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many of the additional 20,000 Police Officers will be allocated to (a) Hertfordshire Police and (b) British Transport Police.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 01 July 2020

Hertfordshire Police has been allocated 91 officers in year one of the uplift. These officers are to be recruited by the end of March 2021. This is supported by an increase of £15.9m in 2020/21. Decisions on the allocation of officers for years two and three are yet to be taken.

The British Transport Police are not included within the allocation of officers for the 20,000 uplift. They are funded directly by train operators and are a separate entity from the 43 territorial forces.

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: 24 June 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Right to Buy Scheme
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress his Department has made on extending eligibility to Right to Buy discounts to Housing Association tenants.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 29 June 2020

This Government strongly believes in supporting social housing tenants to buy their own home. The Voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants is currently being piloted in the Midlands, which is giving thousands of tenants in the East and West Midlands the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of home ownership. The pilot will be fully evaluated after its completion. As set out in the 2019 manifesto, we will be evaluating new pilot areas, and we will announce more details on this in due course.

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: 18 June 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Council Tax and Rents: Arrears
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to stop local authorities using (a) bailiffs and (b) debt collection agents collecting (i) rent and (ii) council tax arrears.
A
Answered by: Mr Simon Clarke
Answered on: 23 June 2020

The Government has put in place measures to prevent enforcement agents taking control of goods at residential premises and on highways until 23 August 2020.

This is part of an unprecedented support package to help prevent people getting into rent arrears or financial hardship. The Government has also taken action to prevent renters, including council tenants, from eviction. On 5 June, the Government announced that the current suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation will be extended by 2 months until 23 August 2020. This means that no action to evict a tenant will proceed before 24 August 2020. The emergency measures in the Coronavirus Act, which requires landlords to give at least 3 months' notice to evict tenants, are unaffected by this and remain in place until 30 September 2020.

Many local authorities have put in place alternative council tax collection arrangements to support their local residents in paying their bills. In addition, the Government has provided an additional £500 million hardship fund to help some of the most vulnerable households with their council tax bills.

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: 16 June 2020
Home Office
Airguns: Reviews
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when her Department plans to publish its response to the review of the regulation of air weapons in England and Wales, published in October 2017.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 22 June 2020

The Government fully understands the interest that Members of Parliament and others have in the outcomes of the review of air weapons regulation, and the concerns that have been expressed about the consequences, sometimes tragic, arising from the misuse of these weapons.

We intend to publish our conclusions in due course, alongside a consultation on firearms safety issues, to which we committed during the passage of the Offensive Weapons Bill.

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: 01 June 2020
Treasury
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to allow people who are paid annually but their RTI was submitted after the 19 March for the 2019-20 tax year eligibility to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 04 June 2020

For an employee to be eligible for the CJRS, the employee must have been notified to HMRC on a real-time information (RTI) submission on or before 19 March.

Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions, including being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020 which relates to a payment of earnings in the 2019/20 tax year.

Anyone paid annually and notified on an RTI submission after that date will not be eligible for the scheme. This position also applies to those who are paid more frequently and were not notified to HMRC on or before 19 March.

The 19 March date allows as many people as possible to be included by going right up to the day before the announcement, and mitigates the risk of fraud that exists as soon as the scheme became public.

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: 13 May 2020
Treasury
Mortgages and Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to extend (a) the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and (b) mortgage payment holidays to cover the same period as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The UK has one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opened on 13 May, ahead of schedule, and it provides support worth up to £7,500 each to millions of individuals. Recipients will have the grants in their bank accounts within six working days of making an application.

The Chancellor indicated that the SEISS would be temporary when he announced it at the end of March, and that it could be extended if necessary. The Government is keeping this under review.

The Government will also continue to work closely with lenders and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure that borrowers are supported during the present challenging times, especially if they are facing financial distress. Lenders are continuing to show forbearance as required, working together with borrowers to establish how they can best affordably and gradually get back on track. Borrowers concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lenders at the earliest possible opportunity.

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: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
High Rise Flats: Insulation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support the RICS External Wall Fire Review process and help people sell their high-rise flats.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The ‘EWS1’ process, developed by RICS, is designed to support valuations of properties in residential buildings over 18 metres. It is important that information from those assessments are shared appropriately to support valuations for all the properties in any assessed block . An industry group is designing a data-sharing portal to facilitate this. The Government will help support this, with some funding, as required.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 24 April 2020
Ministry of Justice
County Courts: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of suspending the issue of county court judgments to small businesses during the covid-19 outbreak to help ensure that those businesses are able to receive and respond efficiently to those judgments.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 05 May 2020

The Government is taking a number of measures to support businesses, landlords and other parties during the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Act 2020 implemented a moratorium on the forfeiture of commercial leases for unpaid rent until 30 June 2020 (with the option to extend through secondary legislation).

MoJ has also worked with BEIS and MHCLG to restrict the use of commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) while the moratorium is in place, and on Thursday 23 April BEIS announced that they will be introducing further measures to protect businesses against aggressive debt recovery actions, including statutory demands and winding up petitions.

The Ministry of Justice has not made an assessment of the merits of suspending county court judgments to small businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak but we continue to keep the situation under review.

More generally, as a further measure to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. the Lord Chancellor and the Master of the Rolls have agreed a Practice Direction to allow parties to extend time limits in most civil cases by up to 56 days without formally notifying the court (rather than the current 28 days).

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: 05 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Drugs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to enable physician associates to prescribe medication in tackling the spread of covid-19.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 10 March 2020

Whilst there is no legal requirement for a profession to be regulated before it can be given prescribing responsibilities, all healthcare professions that have prescribing responsibilities in the United Kingdom are regulated. This is because prescribing is a high-risk activity.

Physicians associates (PAs) are not regulated and therefore do not have prescribing responsibilities. Work to bring PAs into regulation is underway and the Department plans to consult on draft legislation later this year.

Arrangements can be made under the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 when a disease is, or is imminently anticipated to be, a pandemic. These arrangements can set aside the usual prescribing arrangements and allow medicines to be supplied under a protocol approved by Ministers or a National Health Service body.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 28 February 2020
Department for Transport
Buses: Disability
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has received representations from representatives of the coach sector on the reasons for the low compliance by that sector with the requirement for coaches to be fully accessible by 1 January 2020.
A
Answered by: Chris Heaton-Harris
Answered on: 09 March 2020

The Government supports the creation of an inclusive transport network, and ensuring that disabled and non-disabled people can travel together onboard bus and coach services is key to making this a reality.

Officials engage regularly with stakeholders and we have received a range of representations concerning the impact of the application of the Regulations and of the exemptions we have issued, including from coach operators and bus and coach industry representatives.

It is the Government’s view that it is wrong to require a child to travel in a separate vehicle, segregated from their peers, simply because they are disabled. Every delay in achieving full compliance prevents disabled people from travelling with the same freedom, dignity and choice that others take for granted.

We have provided temporary exemptions to help ease the implementation of the Regulations, but once these have expired we expect all vehicles subject to the Regulations and used on home to school services to comply with them.

Q
(Stevenage)
Asked on: 21 February 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Parking: Fees and Charges
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to require surplus off-street parking revenue to be used in the same way as surplus on-street parking revenue.
A
Answered by: Mr Simon Clarke
Answered on: 02 March 2020

Local authorities currently have strict controls over what they may spend any additional parking income on. Parking should be self-funding but local authorities must ensure that any surplus income from penalty charges (whether issued for on-street or off-street contraventions) plus any revenue from on-street parking fees and charges is used for legitimate purposes as prescribed in Section 55 (as amended) of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984.

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: 21 February 2020
Treasury
VAT
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of a short term reduction in VAT on the economy.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 26 February 2020

VAT is an important source of revenue for the Exchequer, raising approximately £132 billion in 2018/2019. This plays an important part in funding the Government's spending priorities including hospitals, schools, and defence.

Reducing the standard rate would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer, and that cost would have to be balanced by increased taxes elsewhere, or reductions in government spending. Therefore, while all taxes are kept under review, there are currently no plans to reduce the standard rate of VAT.

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: 21 February 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Local Government Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the usable reserves held by each local authority in each year since 2010.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 26 February 2020

Local authorities are free to determine the level of reserves they hold on an annual basis and are accountable to their electorate for the decisions they make.

The financial framework is designed to ensure that adequate reserve levels are held by local authorities. This is done through legislation which requires local authorities to make an assessment annually on the adequacy of the financial reserves which are held. This aspect of the framework is crucial in ensuring that all local authorities hold sufficient unallocated reserves to meet unforeseeable financial risks

Local authorities report their usable reserves balances in a section of an annual Government return called 'Local Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing Final Outturn'. These returns are published annually on the GOV.UK website. Categories are broken down into unallocated amounts (as referred to above) and earmarked balances which will usually be set aside for specific purposes. The data collection also includes ring-fenced reserves.

Attached is a link to that data source which contains links to each financial year's data on reserves including 2010/11. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-revenue-expenditure-and-financing

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: 13 February 2020
Department for Transport
Electric Vehicles: Bicycles
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to allow fully electric bikes to be registered as a category with the DVLA.
A
Answered by: Rachel Maclean
Answered on: 24 February 2020

A power-assisted bicycle, which is propelled solely by electricity and intended for use on public roads, must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. However, there is an exemption from registration and licensing in Great Britain for low powered bicycles, which cannot exceed 15 mph and have a battery of 250 watts or lower.

The Department for Transport is reviewing the regulations that apply to small, electric vehicles known as micromobility vehicles as part of its review into regulation of innovative transport technologies and business models. A call for evidence is due to be published in the next few weeks. This will include questions about how small, electric vehicles such as fully electric cycles should be regulated in the future.

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: 20 January 2020
Cabinet Office
Homelessness: Death
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the number of homeless deaths in (a) the UK, (b) England, (c) Hertfordshire and (d) Stevenage in each year since 2010.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 04 February 2020

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

UKSA Response (PDF Document, 77.14 KB)
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: 20 January 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Homelessness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of homeless people in (a) the UK, (b) England, (c) Hertfordshire and (d) Stevenage constituency; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 23 January 2020

Homelessness is a devolved matter in the UK and statistics are produced by each UK country separately. MHCLG therefore holds data for England only. The Government Statistical Service Harmonisation Team have developed an interactive tool providing guidance on comparing statistics across UK countries and shows how each country’s statistics are collected. The tool is available here: https://gss.civilservice.gov.uk/tools/GSS-Homelessness-Interactive-Tool/

Following the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, homeless households are owed a 56 day relief duty before a main duty decision is made. In England between April to June 2019, 32,220 households who presented themselves to their local authority were initially assessed as homeless and therefore owed a relief duty. During the same period, 8,360 households in England were assessed as owed a main homelessness duty. In Hertfordshire, 536 households were owed a relief duty and 223 were owed a main homelessness duty in April to June 2019. In Stevenage, 72 households were owed a relief duty and 13 were owed a main homelessness duty.

In December 2019 we announced the allocation of £263 million in funding for 2020/21 to local authorities designed to support them to deliver services to tackle homelessness. The purpose of this funding is to give local authorities more control and flexibility in managing homelessness pressures and supporting those who are at risk of homelessness, including providing them with temporary accommodation.

Table 1: Number of households owed relief duties and main duties, April to June 2019

Relief duties owed

Main duty acceptances

England

32,220

8,360

Hertfordshire

536

223

Stevenage

72

13

Source: Homelessness statistics (HCLIC), MHCLG

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: 20 January 2020
Cabinet Office
Polling Stations: Schools
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the number of schools that closed for polling the 2019 general election in (a) Hertfordshire, (b) Stevenage, (c) England and (d) throughout the UK; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 23 January 2020

The Government does not hold information centrally on the number of primary schools that are used as polling stations. It is the responsibility of the relevant Returning Officer to choose venues for polling stations.

For the 2019 General Election, the Government offered to reimburse the additional cost of using alternative venues where schools or other community spaces ordinarily used as polling places were already booked for other planned events on the day of the poll in order to avoid disrupting activities in the run up to the festive season. The Minister for the Cabinet Office provided such reassurance in the following letter to Returning Officers:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-returning-officers

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: 07 January 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Local Enterprise Partnerships
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will make it her policy to abolish LEPs.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 13 January 2020

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) continue to play an important role in providing a business voice to inform investment decisions and drive economic growth. Government continues to support LEPs in fully implementing the recommendations in the ‘Strengthening LEPs’ report, published in July 2018, in order to maximise this role.

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