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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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
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Intensive Care
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase (a) the number of ventilators and (b) ICU capacity.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 30 March 2020

It is the Government’s priority that the National Health Service has appropriate equipment to respond to COVID-19. This includes the provision of intensive care beds. The Department is working closely with NHS England and the devolved administrations to ensure this is achieved.

NHS England is actively assessing the critical care capacity of NHS organisations and the availability of additional facilities in the independent sector. It is working to ensure that hospitals have as much ventilation equipment as required and, crucially, the skilled and trained people to use it.

A new temporary hospital - the NHS Nightingale hospital – will open at the Excel Centre in London next week. It will have capacity for 4,000 people.

Two new temporary hospitals will be set up at Birmingham's NEC and the Manchester conference centre and will be ready next month.

NHS England has agreed a major deal with the nation’s independent hospitals. The deal – the first of its kind ever - includes the provision of 8,000 hospital beds across England and nearly 1,200 more ventilators.

We have been buying up ventilation equipment since the start of the crisis. NHS England expects soon to have just short of 12,000 ventilators available and we have asked the nation’s advanced manufacturers to join a national effort to produce more.

Information on critical care bed capacity is published by NHS England and can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/critical-care-capacity/

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
[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 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Intensive Care: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government will take to ensure babies and children of parents requiring intensive care treatment as a result of covid-19 are looked after.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 26 March 2020
Holding answer received on 19 March 2020

In many cases, other family members or friends of the parent(s) will provide temporary care. If there is no-one to look after the child, the local authority may need to take the child into temporary care.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Food: Delivery Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that people that are (a) elderly, (b) vulnerable and (c) required to self-isolate receive food deliveries.
A
Answered by: Victoria Prentis
Answered on: 26 March 2020

We are working closely across Government, with representatives of the food supply chain and with local authorities and charities to ensure that people who need to stay at home will have continued access to food.

To help supermarkets, the Government has already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have temporarily relaxed elements of competition law to enable supermarkets to work more closely together to ensure people can access the products they need. Food retailers will now be able to share data on their stock levels, cooperate to keep stores open and share staff, distribution depots and delivery vehicles. This will help keep shops open and staffed and better able to meet high demand. Guidance has been issued to local authorities to show flexibility to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets to ensure shelves can be replenished more quickly. The Transport Secretary has also announced a temporary and limited relaxation of the drivers’ hours rules so that more goods can be delivered to every store every day. We welcome the actions that industry is taking, including hiring more staff, including prioritising delivery slots for those that need them most.

The Government is working to ensure that up to 1.5 million people in England identified by the NHS as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract Coronavirus will have access to the food they need. A new Local Support System will make sure those individuals self-isolating at home and who are without a support network of friends and family will receive basic groceries. The Government is working with a partnership of the groceries industry, local government, local resilience forums and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can start to be delivered as soon as possible to those who need it.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
[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 March 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what (a) financial and (b) other support the Government plans to provide to UK nationals overseas to enable them to return to the UK.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 25 March 2020
Holding answer received on 24 March 2020

Our consular team is working around the clock to provide support, advice and information. We are working closely with local authorities, commercial airlines and other diplomatic missions to enable British people to get home. If British people are in need of urgent assistance, they should call our Embassies and High Commissions, which will automatically connect them to our consular contact centres, where our staff can provide further advice. Given the dramatic increase in demand we are doubling the number of call handlers working to answer peoples' calls. We are helping to reduce travel costs by encouraging airlines to have maximum flexibility on changing return tickets. Where people are in real need, our consular teams will work with them to consider their options and, as a last resort, offer an emergency loan.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Public Health
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure users of (a) other languages, (b) British Sign Language and (c) Braille have timely and accessible information on covid-19.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 24 March 2020

All guidance, statements and public information released by the Government are readily available to read online information on COVID-19 from Public Health England and the Department is translated into British Sign Language videos can be found at the following link:

https://www.signhealth.org.uk/

Resources for COVID-19 are currently available in nine other languages to ensure that support and advice can be given to non-English speakers. These languages are Polish, Welsh, Arabic (Modern), French, Simplified Chinese (Mandarin), Traditional Chinese (Cantonese), Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, and Portuguese.

NHS England’s Accessible Information Standard sets out the National Health Service’s obligations around providing information in an accessible format for people who use British Sign Language and braille.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Hospitals: Languages
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure hospitalised users of (a) other languages and (b) British Sign Language have access to communication support.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 24 March 2020

National Health Service providers working with their NHS commissioners should be taking steps to ensure hospitalised users receive access to interpreters in community languages and British Sign Language (BSL).

NHS England and NHS Improvement published guidance for Interpreting and Translation principles in primary care. This guidance is available for NHS providers and commissioners to help them in their roles providing hospitalised patients with communication support, whether that is community languages or BSL.

The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/primary-care/primary-care-commissioning/interpreting/

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Loneliness: Older People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance he plans to issue to people aged 70 and over that are self-isolating to (a) combat loneliness and (b) stay fit and healthy.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 24 March 2020

Those who are self-isolating are protecting the lives of others, as well as making sure the National Health Service does not get overwhelmed. However, it can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people, especially if there is limited space or no access to a garden.

Guidance on looking after personal wellbeing while self-isolating is provided at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

This guidance advises those who are self-isolating to stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media, and signposts sources of support and information that can help, such as the  Every Mind Matters website, available at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

The guidance also suggests activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films, or taking part in light exercise within the home or garden if those who are self-isolating feel well enough.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Statutory Sick Pay
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the adequacy of statutory sick pay in covering individual weekly living expenses; and if she will increase the value of that pay to the European average during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 24 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
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Food: Sales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what guidance he has issued to businesses on preventing members of the public from stockpiling (a) food and (b) other essential products.
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: 30140 | 30170 | 30171 | 29817
Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
[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 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when testing for covid-19 will be made available for members of the public who are not hospitalised.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 19 March 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
[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 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he will introduce covid-19 testing for front line NHS and emergency service workers when they show symptoms for covid-19.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 19 March 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to promote social distancing in response to the outbreak of covid-19.
Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Public Bodies: Liability
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether a duty of care that an individual removes from their relatives automatically passes to a public body from which that individual is receiving care.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 March 2020

Both the National Health Service and local authorities owe a common law duty of care to the people within their care.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Suicide: Internet
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department has taken to tackle suicide chat forums since the death of Callie Lewis.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 05 March 2020

The Online Harms White Paper set out government’s plans to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users, enforced by an independent regulator. As part of our plans, companies will be required to take action to address harmful suicide and self-harm content that provides graphic details of suicide methods and self-harming, including encouragement of self-harm and suicide.

There are already arrangements between companies and charities to improve the identification and removal of content when it is reported, and services that signpost help and supportive content to users. The Samaritans has a strategic partnership with social media companies and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). The partnership works together to set guidance on moderating suicide and self-harm content, and supporting users to stay safe online.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department for Education
Schools: Admissions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) effectiveness of consultation periods used by schools to consult parents on proposals to establish feeder arrangements.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 05 March 2020

School admission arrangements must comply with the School Admissions Code. The Code permits admission arrangements which give priority to children who attend named feeder schools. It also requires that the selection of feeder schools is transparent and made on reasonable grounds. In addition, the Code requires that admission arrangements are fair.

The School Admissions Code requires admission authorities to consult locally before making changes to their admission arrangements. They must consult for a minimum of 6 weeks between 1 October and 31 January in the school year before the arrangements come into effect. The Code specifies the people and organisations that the admission authority must consult. This includes local parents, other local schools and the local authority.

The admission authority must then determine its admission arrangements by 28 February and publish them on its website. Anyone who considers the determined admission arrangements are unlawful or unfair may complain to the Schools Adjudicator. Where the Adjudicator upholds a complaint, the admission authority is required to amend their admission arrangements.

In the Office of the Schools Adjudicator’s annual report for the 2016-17 school year, the Adjudicator stated, ‘If the giving of priority by a secondary school to children from certain feeder primaries means that other children will face a significantly longer or more difficult journey to different schools as a result, then the arrangements are likely to be found to be unfair.’ The report is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/osa-annual-report.

The Department collects pupil forecasts from each local authority through the annual school capacity survey. The latest published data relates to the position in the 2017-18 school year. Secondary pupil numbers in Bromley local authority are forecast to increase by 3,214 (12%) from 23,618 in 2019-20 to 26,832 in 2024-25, as seen in the table below.

Table 1: Secondary pupil forecasts for Bromley local authority

School year

Bromley local authority secondary pupil total

2019-20

23,618

2020-21

24,415

2021-22

25,281

2022-23

25,991

2023-24

26,561

2024-25

26,832

Further information can be found in the place planning tables at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-capacity-academic-year-2017-to-2018.

Grouped Questions: 21344 | 21345
Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department for Education
Secondary Education: Bromley
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the increase in the number of secondary school places in Bromley in each of the next five years; and what assessment he has made of the potential effect of feeder school arrangements on that increase.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 05 March 2020

School admission arrangements must comply with the School Admissions Code. The Code permits admission arrangements which give priority to children who attend named feeder schools. It also requires that the selection of feeder schools is transparent and made on reasonable grounds. In addition, the Code requires that admission arrangements are fair.

The School Admissions Code requires admission authorities to consult locally before making changes to their admission arrangements. They must consult for a minimum of 6 weeks between 1 October and 31 January in the school year before the arrangements come into effect. The Code specifies the people and organisations that the admission authority must consult. This includes local parents, other local schools and the local authority.

The admission authority must then determine its admission arrangements by 28 February and publish them on its website. Anyone who considers the determined admission arrangements are unlawful or unfair may complain to the Schools Adjudicator. Where the Adjudicator upholds a complaint, the admission authority is required to amend their admission arrangements.

In the Office of the Schools Adjudicator’s annual report for the 2016-17 school year, the Adjudicator stated, ‘If the giving of priority by a secondary school to children from certain feeder primaries means that other children will face a significantly longer or more difficult journey to different schools as a result, then the arrangements are likely to be found to be unfair.’ The report is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/osa-annual-report.

The Department collects pupil forecasts from each local authority through the annual school capacity survey. The latest published data relates to the position in the 2017-18 school year. Secondary pupil numbers in Bromley local authority are forecast to increase by 3,214 (12%) from 23,618 in 2019-20 to 26,832 in 2024-25, as seen in the table below.

Table 1: Secondary pupil forecasts for Bromley local authority

School year

Bromley local authority secondary pupil total

2019-20

23,618

2020-21

24,415

2021-22

25,281

2022-23

25,991

2023-24

26,561

2024-25

26,832

Further information can be found in the place planning tables at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-capacity-academic-year-2017-to-2018.

Grouped Questions: 21343 | 21345
Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Department for Education
Secondary Education: Bromley
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential effect on freedom of secondary school choice for primary schools pupils not in a feeder school in Bromley of the Harris Federation and Langley Park Learning Trust setting up feeder arrangements.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 05 March 2020

School admission arrangements must comply with the School Admissions Code. The Code permits admission arrangements which give priority to children who attend named feeder schools. It also requires that the selection of feeder schools is transparent and made on reasonable grounds. In addition, the Code requires that admission arrangements are fair.

The School Admissions Code requires admission authorities to consult locally before making changes to their admission arrangements. They must consult for a minimum of 6 weeks between 1 October and 31 January in the school year before the arrangements come into effect. The Code specifies the people and organisations that the admission authority must consult. This includes local parents, other local schools and the local authority.

The admission authority must then determine its admission arrangements by 28 February and publish them on its website. Anyone who considers the determined admission arrangements are unlawful or unfair may complain to the Schools Adjudicator. Where the Adjudicator upholds a complaint, the admission authority is required to amend their admission arrangements.

In the Office of the Schools Adjudicator’s annual report for the 2016-17 school year, the Adjudicator stated, ‘If the giving of priority by a secondary school to children from certain feeder primaries means that other children will face a significantly longer or more difficult journey to different schools as a result, then the arrangements are likely to be found to be unfair.’ The report is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/osa-annual-report.

The Department collects pupil forecasts from each local authority through the annual school capacity survey. The latest published data relates to the position in the 2017-18 school year. Secondary pupil numbers in Bromley local authority are forecast to increase by 3,214 (12%) from 23,618 in 2019-20 to 26,832 in 2024-25, as seen in the table below.

Table 1: Secondary pupil forecasts for Bromley local authority

School year

Bromley local authority secondary pupil total

2019-20

23,618

2020-21

24,415

2021-22

25,281

2022-23

25,991

2023-24

26,561

2024-25

26,832

Further information can be found in the place planning tables at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-capacity-academic-year-2017-to-2018.

Grouped Questions: 21343 | 21344
Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Treasury
Loneliness
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that the nine Departments tasked with tackling loneliness receive adequate funding to (a) deliver the Government’s long-term vision on tackling loneliness and (b) build on the progress made against the 60 commitments set out in the 2018 strategy entitled A Connected Society.
A
Answered by: Steve Barclay
Answered on: 05 March 2020

The government is taking a cross-departmental approach to tackling loneliness, recognising that no one department holds all the levers for successful change. The work is led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with eight other departments contributing commitments to the Loneliness Strategy. The government's Loneliness Strategy was published in October 2018 and an annual report was published in January 2020, setting out headlines on progress so far. The government will carry out a Comprehensive Spending Review later this year, where the government will take a systematic view across all spending over multiple years and set future budgets. An announcement on the timing of the Spending Review will be made in due course.

Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Health Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of caseloads for community mental health teams; and whether he has plans to allocate additional funding from the public purse to support those teams.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 04 March 2020

The mental health workforce plan, ‘Stepping Forward: a mental health workforce plan for England’ sets out an ambition for 21,000 new posts across the mental health system occupied by 19,000 new staff. This plan also includes the aim for 6000 full time posts in mental health trusts to come through improved retention.


Under the NHS Long Term Plan, we have announced a £975 million investment in transforming community mental health services. The first tranche of funding will provide 12 pilot sites with 1,000 extra staff and bring together primary and specialist care to better support people’s physical and mental health and better link with other local services such as housing.

Grouped Questions: 20622 | 21285
Q
Asked by Ellie Reeves
(Lewisham West and Penge)
Asked on: 25 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Health Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to take steps to ensure that community mental health workers are able to manage their caseloads.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 04 March 2020

The mental health workforce plan, ‘Stepping Forward: a mental health workforce plan for England’ sets out an ambition for 21,000 new posts across the mental health system occupied by 19,000 new staff. This plan also includes the aim for 6000 full time posts in mental health trusts to come through improved retention.


Under the NHS Long Term Plan, we have announced a £975 million investment in transforming community mental health services. The first tranche of funding will provide 12 pilot sites with 1,000 extra staff and bring together primary and specialist care to better support people’s physical and mental health and better link with other local services such as housing.

Grouped Questions: 20621 | 21285
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