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
(New Forest East)
[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: 15 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Sentinel Aircraft
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which (a) conventional and (b) counterinsurgency campaigns Sentinel aircraft have seen action since their entry into service; what the original design life of each Sentinel aircraft is, and by how much this can practicably be increased by a life extension project; whether the UK possesses alternative systems that can provide (i) strategic and (ii) tactical surveillance coverage over land equivalent to that currently provided by Sentinel; and how future land campaigns will adequately be conducted if a capability gap is created by the retirement of the Sentinel fleet.
A
Answered by: Jeremy Quin
Answered on: 21 May 2020
Holding answer received on 20 May 2020

The Sentinel R1 has been operationally deployed in support of a number of operations. Some operations are considered to be both conventional and counter-insurgency; for example operations in Afghanistan (Op HERRICK) and Iraq (Op SHADER). It has also been deployed on operations in Libya (Op ELLAMY), Nigeria (Op TURUS) and Mali (Op NEWCOMBE), all considered conventional operations.

Sentinel was introduced in 2008 in the knowledge that a significant equipment upgrade would be required in the mid 2010’s.

The Defence Review in 2010 cancelled this expected upgrade bringing forward the likely out of service date.

The SDSR 2015 determined that Sentinel should be retained for a further period and set a new out of service date of March 2021. While some work was conducted on the on-board equipment this fell well short of a full system upgrade.

The radar and mission system are now increasingly obsolescent and will face increasing reliability issues as time progresses.

Retaining the capability would have required significant upgrade expenditure and the March 2021 out of service date has been retained.

No identical capability is operated by the UK (though similar capabilities exist in the NATO inventory).

The UK does however have a number of other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that collect different types of intelligence information, including long-range strategic assets (Sentry, Rivet Joint and Poseidon) and shorter-range more tactically-focused assets (including Shadow, Reaper and Watchkeeper).

Q
(New Forest East)
[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
Disease Control: EU Action
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what mechanism will replace the EU Early Warning and Response system on pandemics after the end of the transition period.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 20 May 2020
Holding answer received on 18 May 2020

The United Kingdom uses a range of international information-sharing systems to monitor global health threats, including the European Union’s Early Warning and Response System.

As set out in the UK's approach to negotiations with the EU published on 27 February, the UK is open to exploring cooperation in other specific and narrowly-defined areas, where this is in the interests of both sides, for example on health security. The detail of the UK’s future relationship with the EU on health security is subject to the outcome of ongoing negotiations.

The UK will maintain its domestic health protection system following the end of the Transition Period through continued access to international systems and we will continue to work alongside other countries and multilateral groups on the response to the COVID-19 and other future cross-border health threats.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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: 15 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Maritime Patrol Aircraft: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the retirement of the RAF Nimrod fleet, for what reason the UK has not replaced its maritime surveillance capability; and what assessment he has made of (a) the disadvantages of the lack of UK maritime patrol aircraft, (b) when such capability could be restored, and (c) the requirement to restore the capability.
A
Answered by: Jeremy Quin
Answered on: 20 May 2020

In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Government confirmed that it would close the Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability gap with the procurement of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The UK's first aircraft was delivered to the Royal Air Force in October 2019 and we declared an initial operating capability on 1 April 2020.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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: 15 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Leisure: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason (a) leisure parks have been provisionally scheduled for reopening only in step 3 of the covid-19 recovery strategy and (b) open-air facilities have been grouped for reopening with (i) cinemas and (ii) other indoor leisure venues; and if he will make it his policy to reallocate leisure parks to an earlier reopening phase of the recovery strategy.
A
Answered by: Nigel Huddleston
Answered on: 20 May 2020

The Government will look at reopening sites such as leisure parks and outdoor recreation facilities no earlier than 4 July, in line with the wider hospitality sector. Any decisions will be subject to further scientific advice and the risk assessment at the time.


As part of the Government’s leisure and recreation taskforce, my Department has set up a Visitor Economy Working Group to specifically focus on the practicalities and guidelines for opening up the sector during the recovery period. We will issue further guidance shortly on our phased reopening approach, including which businesses could be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the deaths associated with covid-19 comprised people with diabetes in each of the last 12 weeks; for what reason people with diabetes have not been classed as extremely vulnerable; and whether he will make it his policy to include on the shielded list, people living with all types of diabetes .
Q
(New Forest East)
[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 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate the Government has made of the level of risk of incorrect negative covid-19 test results due to ineffective application of swabs to the (a) throat and (b) nose; and what steps the Government is taking to reduce that risk.
Q
(New Forest East)
[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: 19 May 2020
Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
Commons
To ask the hon. Member for City of Chester, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, whether the Commission (a) plans to enable itself to take prosecutions to court without prior police investigation, and (b) currently is entitled to empower itself to do so.
Q
(New Forest East)
[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
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Protective Clothing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the performance of (a) reusable respirator hoods designed at Southampton University, (b) reusable surgical gowns manufactured in Derbyshire and (c) other recent developments of reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff; for what reason reusable items of PPE have so far only been ordered by individual NHS trusts; and if he will make it his policy to allocate resources to the acquisition of adequate supplies of reusable PPE.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 18 May 2020
Holding answer received on 11 May 2020

The Government’s personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance has been revised according to clinical guidance and clearly sets out that re-usable PPE can be used. Advice on suitable decontamination arrangements should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control.

Strategies for optimising the supply of PPE are being explored. Other countries have begun sterilising to decontaminate PPE. Public Health England, NHS England and the Health and Safety Executive are looking at these methods and are working at pace to assess the evidence base.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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 May 2020
Department for Education
GCE A-level and GCSE: Standards
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has in place to ensure that the GCSE and A-level grades awarded to pupils at improving schools in disadvantaged areas including New Forest Academy which are projected to achieve significantly better results in 2020 than in 2019 are an adequate reflection of those projections; and if he will put in place means of appeal other than on administrative grounds for students awarded grades that their school considers to be inappropriate or unfair.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 18 May 2020

These are matters for the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and I have asked its Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, to write directly to the Honourable Member. A copy of her reply will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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
Treasury
Mortgages: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May to Question 43822 on endowment mortgage policies, if he will take steps to work closely with the financial sector to ensure that the providers of such policies offer an option to people dependent upon them to discharge mortgages, to extend the policies' maturation dates until after the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: John Glen
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The current size of the endowment linked mortgage market is small, with no new endowment linked mortgage products and few coming to maturity.

Banks and buildings societies stand ready to support all of their customers affected by Covid-19, including those with an endowment mortgage shortfall.

Firms will consider customer circumstances with endowment mortgages on a case-by-case basis and UK Finance have instructed lenders to treat all customers sympathetically at this time. Customers are also protected under the FCA’s overarching Treating Customers Fairly principle.

Given this, we believe that existing lender forbearance and regulatory guidance is sufficient in supporting customers with endowment mortgages through Covid-19.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the preparedness of UK (a) nuclear and (b) conventional forces to deter and respond respectively to military threats and aggressive behaviour; and whether an increase in (i) disinformation campaigns and (ii) aggressive behaviour by (A) Russia, (B) China, (C) Iran and (D) North Korea has been observed since the onset of the pandemic.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 18 May 2020

It is taking longer than expected to respond to the hon. Member's question, therefore I will write to him shortly.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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
Ministry of Defence
Navy: Fisheries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will list the Royal Navy vessels (a) currently available and (b) which will be made available for fishery protection at the end of the transition period; and whether any further role is planned for HMS Clyde.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The Royal Navy does not maintain vessels exclusively employed for fishery protection activities; however, it does have and operate three River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels currently in UK waters, that conduct fishery patrol tasking alongside their other Defence tasks. HMS MERSEY, TYNE and SEVERN are, and will continue to be, used to fulfil the Royal Navy's commitments under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Navy and the Marine Management Organisation. In addition, the Royal Navy maintains a number of high readiness forces in UK waters that could be called upon to assist if requested.

HMS CLYDE was operated by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) under lease from BAE Systems. This arrangement ended at the end of March 2020, and the ship was returned to the company. The MOD has no plans for a further role for HMS CLYDE.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 May to Question 38861 on Coronavirus: Disease Control, for what reasons people living with post-polio syndrome have not been included in the clinically extremely vulnerable category; and if he will make it his policy to include those people in that category.
Q
(New Forest East)
[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 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Child Maintenance Service standard practice of making reassessments when there is a 25 per cent reduction in income, if she will make it her policy to provide financial assistance to low-income, divorced parents on furlough at 80 per cent of their normal income to help them meet their child maintenance payments.
Q
(New Forest East)
[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 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Voluntary Work
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of NHS volunteer responders have been cleared to undertake tasks to support the NHS; and whether it is his policy that those volunteers should also undertake tasks in support of (a) care homes and the (b) National Care Force.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 14 May 2020
Holding answer received on 11 May 2020

As of 7 May 2020, out of the 750,000 people who have signed up to the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, 589,731 have completed the necessary identity checks to begin helping those most vulnerable. The volunteers will undertake four community-based tasks, including shopping and collecting medication for someone who is self-isolating and telephone support to individuals at risk of loneliness.

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme was set up to provide direct support to vulnerable people, and to reduce the pressure on the National Health Service and social care during the pandemic. Social care providers and local authorities are able to refer vulnerable people into the programme, while individuals themselves and carers can now also self-refer for volunteer support. NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department are engaging with the social care sector to consider how volunteers can further support social care services, taking into account social distancing and infection control measures.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Cleaning Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the value of the role of local commercial laundries in cleaning contaminated bedding and other substantial soiled items from care homes; whether the coloured water-soluble bags needed to process soiled items safely have been designated under the category of PPE for essential laundry staff; and if he will urgently allocate resources to manufacturers of water-soluble laundry bags to meet the shortfall of availability to local commercial laundries serving care homes arising from the increased use of such bags by hospitals serving NHS patients.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 13 May 2020
Holding answer received on 27 April 2020

The Government is not currently considering the wider use of local commercial laundries in regard to care homes. The Government has published guidance related to laundry in care homes which can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-supported-living-provision

Public Health England published a COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guide to those working in care homes on 17 April. This advises that suitable decontamination arrangements for some PPE items should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control. Public Health England’s publication can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-how-to-work-safely-in-care-homes

Water-soluble bags are not designated under PPE at this current time. A list of PPE recommendations for social care workers can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

Q
(New Forest East)
[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 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Protective Clothing: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the contact details for a team in his Department that companies able to supply large quantities of PPE from abroad can use to explain what PPE products they are able to supply; and if he will take steps to ensure that those companies receive a timely response.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 13 May 2020
Holding answer received on 27 April 2020

The Government’s Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) plan was published on 10 April and can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan

As Strand 3 details, we have set up a cross-Government PPE sourcing unit to secure new supply lines from across the world and a call to industry has been issued to companies at home to manufacture and supply additional PPE at scale.

All offers to supply PPE must be made through the United Kingdom Government’s online portal:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business

All offers will receive an immediate automated response and then follow up contact once the team have assessed the offer.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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: 22 April 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 urgently make it his policy to include people living with (a) pulmonary fibrosis and (b) the after-effects of polio in the list of people classified as vulnerable and at high risk during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 13 May 2020
Holding answer received on 27 April 2020

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These are signed off by the UK Senior Clinicians Group (including four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers and clinical leadership at NHS England, NHS Digital, and Public Health England).

Individuals who have been identified with one of these medical conditions are classed as being clinically extremely vulnerable and are advised to shield to protect themselves. Shielding involves staying at home at all times and avoiding all face to face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.

Pulmonary fibrosis is an interstitial lung disease. Patients with interstitial lung disease (which includes pulmonary fibrosis) have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Q
(New Forest East)
[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: 06 May 2020
Treasury
Small Businesses: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide additional support to SMEs such as dental and other medical practices by (a) requiring insurers to honour covid-19 claims under business interruption policies which covered notifiable diseases, even if covid-19 was not explicitly listed; and (b) allowing the directors of limited companies a monthly grant comparable to those given to employees and the self-employed.
A
Answered by: Steve Barclay
Answered on: 12 May 2020

The Government recognises the important role all medical business play to protect and improve the health of the population and is taking many steps to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Dentists will be fully remunerated for the NHS work they would have otherwise undertaken, subject to some basic requirements.
  • On 2 April, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced a £300 million cash advance for community pharmacies.
  • The NHS has committed to securing funding for NHS ophthalmic contractors based on average month NHS General Ophthalmic Services fees from the previous year.

Medical practices may also benefit from the range of economic support measures the Government has announced. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to offer cover for unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure, should be able to make a claim – subject to the terms and conditions of their policy. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages. HMRC are not able to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, so do not have a clear mechanism through which to support dividend income from an individual’s own company, without also supporting dividend income from other investments. Company directors who pay themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Q
(New Forest East)
[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: 06 May 2020
Treasury
Mortgages: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of the financial sector on endowment mortgage policies due to mature during the covid-19 outbreak with no prospect of discharging the mortgages to which they are linked; and if he will make it his policy to require companies providing such policies to extend their maturity dates until the after the outbreak.
A
Answered by: John Glen
Answered on: 12 May 2020

The Government has been working closely with the financial sector to ensure appropriate forbearance is being shown across the mortgage market, including a 3-month mortgage holiday to enable affected borrowers to defer their mortgage payments and a 3-month moratorium on possession action to provide customers with reassurance that they will not have their homes repossessed at this difficult time.

Endowments are a form of investment, therefore, any extension to maturity dates would be a bespoke commercial decision and down to individual providers. We advise any customer whose endowment is to mature, to seek advice from both their lender and insurer on how to proceed.

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