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 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
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Insurance: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the (a) Chancellor of the Exchequer and (b) representatives of the insurance industry on compensation for businesses affected by the outbreak of covid 19.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 30 March 2020

The Government is well prepared for this type of outbreak. The Department is frequently communicating with business representative organisations, including the Association of British Insurers, to gain current intelligence on Covid-19 and its impact on businesses.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are currently working together to take all necessary steps to understand the effect of Covid-19 and to respond.

Last week, the Government confirmed that for those businesses which do have a policy that covers pandemics, the Government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Coronavirus: Compensation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that event organisers that have been required to cancel their event due to the covid-19 outbreak will receive compensation.
A
Answered by: Nigel Huddleston
Answered on: 26 March 2020

Government recognises that multiple aspects of the events sector are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including event organisers, conference centres and event suppliers.

We are taking a number of steps to make sure that the events sector is financially supported through the coronavirus crisis. My Department regularly engages with stakeholders in the sector and across Government on this developing issue. We will continue to monitor its impact on the sector and would urge events businesses to share information with VisitBritain via their Tourism Industry Emergency Response group.

The Chancellor has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. This includes a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, tax relief and cash grant measures, plus £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses across the UK. I am also writing to the Chancellor to provide clarity guidance for the events sector on business rate relief.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Self-employed: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to introduce benefits for self-employed people whose work is reduced because of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 25 March 2020

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Q
(Bristol West)
[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: 17 March 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Performing Arts: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if the Government will introduce a compensation scheme for performers, events organisers and others affected by the cancellation of performances and festivals as a result of covid-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 25 March 2020

Last week, the Secretary of State and Minister for Digital and Culture took calls with the creative and cultural sectors amongst others to understand the challenges that they are facing. Officials are continuing to engage with organisations daily in order to best understand how Government can support the cultural and creative sectors and regular Ministerial engagement is taking place.

Arts Council England also announced measures in support of it’s funded organisations last week. More information for those this may apply to can be found here: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19#section-2

Businesses that experience increased costs and disrupted cash flow as a result of Coronavirus are being supported. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already announced a host of measures to help businesses in this period with £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses across the UK, delivered through two schemes:

  • Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them with any disruption to their cash flows through loans.

  • Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2m to £5m and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as the Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

£20bn of direct fiscal support for businesses in England through tax relief and cash grants to help business manage cash flow. This includes:

  • Cash grants of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.

  • Cash grants of £10,000 for several hundred thousand small businesses eligible for business rate relief and rural rate relief.

  • Entirely removing all eligible properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector from business rates, so that no pub, hotel, or high street shop will pay business rates for 12 months.

  • This comes on top of compensation for businesses having to cover Statutory Sick Pay that the Chancellor announced in the Budget.

As part of the government’s emergency legislation measures, Statutory Sick Pay will be available from day one for those affected by coronavirus. Anyone on zero-hour contracts who may not be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will be able to claim Universal Credit or New Style Employment and Support Allowance, dependent on their circumstances.

Q
(Bristol West)
[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: 17 March 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Arts: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will hold discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the exemption from business rates to ensure that waiver covers studios, performance spaces and other venues which are part of the creative industries even if they have a rateable value of more than £51,000 if they have to be closed as a result of Covid 19.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 25 March 2020

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced last week additional measures to support businesses and organisations that have been impacted by the pandemic. Guidance for businesses can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Last week, both the Secretary of State and Minister for Digital & Culture took calls with the cultural and creative industries sector amongst others to understand the challenges that they are facing as they respond to Government advice regarding Covid-19. Ministers have been representing DCMS sectors through COBRA committees.

Officials are continuing to engage with organisations daily in order to best understand how the Government can provide further guidance and support following the announcement of these measures, and regular Ministerial engagement is taking place.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Pharmacy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure pharmacies do not run out of medical supplies as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 24 March 2020

The country is well prepared to deal with any impacts of COVID-19 and we have stockpiles of generic drugs in the event of any supply issues.

We are working closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need. Precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Education
Schools: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to provide Statutory Sick Pay to (a) teachers and (b) other staff supplied to schools by agencies in the event that schools close as a result of covid-19.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 24 March 2020

The Government is asking all schools to close from Friday 20 March until further notice, except for children of critical workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.

Schools will continue to be fully funded. That will ensure that they are able to continue to pay all their staff, and meet their other regular financial commitments, throughout these difficult times.

The Government has announced changes to statutory sick pay to support those affected by coronavirus. Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Education
Schools: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools have the funds and access to supplies to ensure continuous provision of soap, gel and other hygiene materials required to respond to the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 24 March 2020
Holding answer received on 23 March 2020

The Department understands the sector’s concerns about the additional cost pressures associated with COVID-19, especially following our announcement on 18 March, about schools only remaining open to make provision for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

The Department recognises that schools may face additional costs as a result of COVID-19. We are working with other Government departments and public sector buying organisations with the aim of prioritising schools. All schools will continue to receive core funding payments as normal, and we will put in place a new process to reimburse schools for exceptional costs that they face as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department will discuss how best to deliver this funding with stakeholders over the next few days. We will publish details of the scheme shortly and we trust that this will give head teachers the reassurances they need to enable them to concentrate on their vital role in supporting the nation through this crisis.

Grouped Questions: 30740
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Arts: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he is having with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the provision of temporary financial assistance for organisations in the creative industries who are affected by covid-19.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 24 March 2020

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced additional measures to support businesses and organisations that have been impacted by the pandemic.

This includes the Government stepping in to help pay people’s wages – a scheme which is one of the most generous of any in the world – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. Any employer in the country who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the cost of paying people’s wages. Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month, with this limit set well above the median income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open for at least three months. The Government will consider extending the scheme for longer if necessary.

We are also deferring the next three months of VAT, a direct injection of £33 billion of cash to employers which means no business will pay any VAT in March, April or May; and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest free for twelve months, an extension from the initial announcement of six months. We have already introduced and announced an extension to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is for small and medium-sized businesses. On Tuesday, the Chancellor expanded the amount that can be borrowed from £1.2 million to £5 million.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Supermarkets: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure supermarkets do not run out of food as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Victoria Prentis
Answered on: 23 March 2020

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to any changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.

The Secretary of State is in regular dialogue with industry, including the British Retail Consortium and supermarket chief executives to discuss any additional support the Government can provide. To help supermarkets respond to this unprecedented demand we have already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up quicker, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours.

We fully recognise the additional pressures on our food supply chain as a result of recent events. The UK’s major supermarkets have last weekend issued a statement to encourage everyone to shop as they normally would and pull together to support those staying at home.

We will continue to work closely with the industry over the coming days and months.

Grouped Questions: 30125 | 30170 | 30171 | 29817
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Treasury
Insurance: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the insurance industry on compensating (a) hospitality, (b) events and (c) entertainment businesses for lost business resulting from the outbreak of covid 19.
A
Answered by: John Glen
Answered on: 23 March 2020

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector about its contribution to handling this unprecedented situation.

In addition, the Chancellor has made clear that, for those businesses which have an appropriate policy that covers pandemics, government’s medical advice of 16th March is sufficient to allow businesses to make a claim against their insurance, provided the other terms and conditions in their policy are met.

The FCA’s rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly; provide reasonable guidance to help a policyholder make a claim, and appropriate information on its progress; not reject a claim unreasonably; and settle claims promptly once settlement terms are agreed.

However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. As such, any affected businesses should note the government’s full package of support.

The Chancellor has announced two packages to support the people and businesses of the UK. A three-point plan providing £12 billion of support for public services, individuals and businesses whose finances are affected by the outbreak, and a package to provide further support for businesses and individuals totalling £350bn.

Grouped Questions: 30731
Q
(Bristol West)
[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: 23 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Retail Trade: Protective Clothing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that protective equipment is provided for people working in food shops during the covid-19 outbreak.
Q
(Bristol West)
[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: 23 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Retail Trade: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department has issued to shop owners on protective measures for front line food retail staff during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Q
(Bristol West)
[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: 23 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Hospitals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what contractual terms his Department has agreed with providers of private hospitals being used for NHS purposes during the covid-19 outbreak.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 03 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Calea: Parenteral Nutrition
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what monitoring his Department undertakes on the compliance of Calea UK Ltd with improvements agreed between the company and the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority in their provision of Total Parenteral Nutrition to NHS patients.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Department is in regular dialogue with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and they have advised it continues to work closely with the company to ensure that they make the necessary changes. The MHRA Inspectors have made on-site technical visits, carried out further inspections and its senior management has met with the company on a number of occasions to discuss the improvements which need to be implemented. The MHRA has recently advised that progress is being made and it is currently awaiting the results of a third-party audit, carried out on behalf of the company, which will independently assess the measures implemented to date. Once the MHRA has reviewed the outcome of this audit they anticipate carrying out further inspections to confirm that the company has implemented the necessary changes to bring their aseptic procedures into compliance.

In addition to Calea UK Ltd, there are four commercial operations authorised to provide Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) to the National Health Service. There are a number (approximately 40) of NHS units also authorised by the MHRA for manufacture and supply of TPNs across the NHS.

Grouped Questions: 24366
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 03 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Calea: Parenteral Nutrition
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether Calea UK Ltd is the sole provider of total parenteral nutrition to the NHS.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Department is in regular dialogue with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and they have advised it continues to work closely with the company to ensure that they make the necessary changes. The MHRA Inspectors have made on-site technical visits, carried out further inspections and its senior management has met with the company on a number of occasions to discuss the improvements which need to be implemented. The MHRA has recently advised that progress is being made and it is currently awaiting the results of a third-party audit, carried out on behalf of the company, which will independently assess the measures implemented to date. Once the MHRA has reviewed the outcome of this audit they anticipate carrying out further inspections to confirm that the company has implemented the necessary changes to bring their aseptic procedures into compliance.

In addition to Calea UK Ltd, there are four commercial operations authorised to provide Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) to the National Health Service. There are a number (approximately 40) of NHS units also authorised by the MHRA for manufacture and supply of TPNs across the NHS.

Grouped Questions: 24364
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 03 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Calea: Parenteral Nutrition
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria his Department used to approve Calea UK Ltd as the supplier of total parenteral nutrition to the NHS.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 10 March 2020

The criteria used to approve manufacturers is set out in the “guide to good manufacturing practices” and is monitored via inspection processes performed by the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA). If a company has met these standards, an “authorize to manufacture” is granted. If upon routine re-inspections, the manufacturing processes do not meet the acceptable standard, further actions are taken, as with the case of Calea UK Ltd.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Commercial Medicines Unit (CMU) is responsible for awarding framework agreements for England, in line with procurement regulations, for parenteral nutrition. All suppliers including Calea UK Ltd are required to provide available production capacity, satisfy quality, safety, finance and governance requirements and evidence that they hold a licence with the MHRA and meet its regulatory requirements.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water: Pipelines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has in place to ensure that water utility companies (a) repair leaks in their networks and (b) take other steps to reduce water waste.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 06 March 2020

The Government welcomes the water industry commitment of a 50% leakage reduction by 2050. This commitment forms part of a target set by Ofwat which is bound to financial penalties or rewards based upon performance as part of the Price Review (PR) process.

In PR19 Ofwat set out a £51 billion five-year investment package for the 2020-25 period, including requirements for water companies to cut leaks by 16% and reduce mains bursts by 12%

Water companies provide data to the Environment Agency on water losses. In 2018-19 reporting period 1570.5 Ml/d was lost.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 February 2020
Treasury
Employment: Taxation
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to his Department's news story entitled, Off-payroll review launched, published on 7 January 2020, what the timeframe is for the publication of the findings of that review.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 06 March 2020

The Government launched a review of reform to the off-payroll working rules on 7 January 2020 to determine if there were further steps that could be taken to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the reform, which will come into force in April 2020.

The review of the off-payroll working reform has now concluded and the outcome of the review was published on 27 February 2020.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 February 2020
Treasury
Employment: Taxation
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) sole traders and (b) people working in the gig economy are not adversely affected by changes to IR35 legislation.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 06 March 2020

The IR35 rules were introduced in 2000. They only apply to individuals who are working like employees under the current employment status tests, and do not apply to the self-employed or sole traders.

The Government will introduce a legal requirement for clients to implement a status disagreement process to allow individuals to challenge their status determination directly and in real time. This right is an additional statutory layer of protection for off-payroll workers.

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