Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

Show
by:
Find by:
Close

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.
Showing 1-20 out of 22
Results per page
Results per page 20 | 50 | 100
Expand all answers
Print selected
Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department for Education
Education: Refugees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Refugee Action Turning Words into Action: why the Government must invest now to let refugees learn, published in June.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The government recognises that learning English is essential in enabling refugees to rebuild their lives. We are working across government to develop a new strategy for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) in 2019. The strategy will provide a shared vision for all publicly funded English language provision and it will include addressing the needs of refugees. We will explore what needs to be done to enable good local solutions and to support greater access to English language provision. We will consider the ‘Turning Words into Action’ report, attached, as we develop the strategy.

The department funds ESOL through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), which is allocated to providers on an annual basis. Colleges and adult learning providers have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their AEB allocation to meet the needs of their communities. This includes planning, with local partners, the ESOL courses that they will deliver locally. The Home Office and the Department for Education have provided £10 million to enable refugees resettled through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme to access additional classes.

From the start of the 2019/20 academic year approximately 50% of the AEB will be devolved to 6 Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and to the Mayor of London through the Greater London Authority (GLA). The MCAs and GLA will be responsible for commissioning and funding AEB provision, including ESOL, for learners resident in their areas.

We know that there are many examples of good practice to overcome barriers for learners with childcare needs. Through the ESOL strategy, we will explore what else needs to be done to enable good local solutions and to support greater access to English language provision.

HL16314_report (PDF Document, 821.72 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Northern Ireland Office
Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Duncan of Springbank on 19 March (HL Deb, col 1408), when the written statement on the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme will be laid.
A
Answered on: 20 June 2019

The written statement to which the Noble Lord refers is in relation to the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland’s commitment to establishing an RHI Hardship Unit. The Department has been working to make progress in establishing the Terms of Reference and setting up of the panel, which will have an independent Chair. A call for evidence in relation to the form and function of the unit will shortly be released, and will close at the end of June. This will inform the Terms of Reference of the Unit. I will await the outcome of that before updating the House on progress. DfE anticipate that the panel will begin to accept applications in September 2019.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Education
Maintained Schools: Private Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether collaboration between maintained and independent schools will increase as a result of the Education and Skills Funding Agency funding, announced on 6 June
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 19 June 2019

The new partnerships grant funding announced on 7 June at the Schools Together Group annual conference, aims to raise the ambition for what schools can achieve together, and to remove a key financial barrier to new partnerships forming. It is designed to attract bids from both new partnerships who may benefit from seed funding, as well as existing partnerships looking to deepen and expand their collaborations. We will publish further details and invite schools to submit bids in the autumn.

As part of this programme, the department also plans to conduct evaluation on the success of this grant in increasing the quality and impact of partnerships. This will be published in due course.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Indonesia: Police
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 28 May (HL15771), whether any government department has provided funding or training for the Indonesian police unit Detachment 88, or its successors, since 2017.
A
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The British Government does not provide any funding for police units in Indonesia. However, since the 2005 terrorist attack in Bali, the British and Indonesian Governments have worked together to tackle the threat posed by international terrorist groups which includes the delivery of counter-terrorism capacity building training to Detachment 88 through the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation. Our support includes teaching a broad range of counter terrorism investigation and analytical skills. We have also provided Detachment 88 with essential equipment to enhance their forensic, surveillance and IT capabilities. Such support helps the Indonesian authorities defend against all terrorist threats.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Papua: Police
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they are providing for the Indonesian police unit deployed in West Papua.
A
Answered on: 28 May 2019

The British Government does not provide any funding for police units deployed in Papua or West Papua provinces. We follow the situation in Papua with close interest. Officials from the British Embassy in Jakarta visit Papua regularly.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 15 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Brunei: LGBT People
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Brunei about abrogating the laws under which homosexuals can be stoned to death.
A
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The Foreign Secretary spoke to Brunei’s Foreign Minister, Dato Erywan, on 4 April to express the UK’s concerns about the impact of the Sharia Penal Code. On 11 April, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Asia and the Pacific met Dato Erywan and the Finance Minister, Dato Amin Liew, in London. The Prime Minister wrote to His Majesty The Sultan on 1 May. We welcome the assurances thereafter provided by the Sultan on 5 May. In particular, confirmation that the de facto moratorium on the death penalty will apply to punishments under the Sharia Penal Code and the commitment to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Following this announcement, the Minister for Asia and the Pacific met Dato Erywan and Dato Amin Liew on 7 May. I also welcomed these assurances during my meeting with the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications, Dato Mutalib on 16 May.

The announcement by His Majesty the Sultan demonstrates the importance of engaging in respectful dialogue and diplomacy to address sensitive issues. The assurances provided by the Sultan are positive and go some way to addressing our anxieties about the human rights situation in Brunei. We urge Brunei to build on these assurances and formalise its commitment to respect individual freedoms and minorities.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Indonesia: Arms Trade
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Indonesia to ensure that British-supplied arms are not used for internal repression in West Papua.
A
Answered on: 17 May 2019

The UK takes its arms export responsibilities seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application. We do not export equipment where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression.

We follow the situation in Papua closely. The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific set out our concerns about violence in Papua and reports of alleged human rights violations by the security forces at a Westminster Hall debate on 8 May. The Minister raised concerns about the situation in Papua with the Indonesian Ambassador earlier this year. We will continue to press the Indonesian authorities to strengthen their human rights protections.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Papua: Journalism
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Indonesia about lifting the ban on foreign journalists visiting West Papua.
A
Answered on: 17 May 2019

President Jokowi made clear his intention to allow free access for foreign journalists to Papua when he announced the lifting of the ban in May 2015. A number of foreign journalists have since gained access to report on the region. Unfortunately it seems some elements of the Government have been slow to respond to President Jokowi’s wishes. We continue to receive reports that journalists face difficulties in securing visas and restrictions on free reporting.

In January 2018, I raised my concern on this issue with the Indonesian ambassador to London, and officials in Indonesia also raised this when they visited Papua in February 2019. The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific acknowledged at a Westminster Hall Debate on 8 May 2019 that transparency and media access are important. We continue to encourage Indonesian journalists to write openly and frankly about Papua to ensure that local perspectives are properly heard and are part of any debate.

Our Embassy in Jakarta is very active in promoting press freedom. To mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2019 the Embassy arranged a full programme of activities to celebrate the work of journalists, media organisations and regulators. Indonesia will also be invited to the global Media Freedoms event in July, which the UK is co-hosting with Canada, which will promote the importance of media freedom and aim to adopt a more co-ordinated approach to securing the safety of media professionals.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 29 April 2019
The Senior Deputy Speaker
Parliamentary Archives: Fire Hazards
Lords
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what assessment has been made of the fire risk to the Parliamentary Archives; and whether consideration is being given to moving them to fire-proof premises.
A
Answered by: Lord Laming
Answered on: 14 May 2019

The Senior Deputy Speaker has asked me, as Chairman of the Services Committee, to respond on his behalf.

The last fire risk assessment for Victoria Tower was carried out in 2016. It highlighted several fire safety issues, the majority of which have been dealt with as part of the Fire Safety Improvement Works Programme. This included the upgrade of the fire detection, new fire escape signage, emergency escape lighting and fire doors. There is also inherent fire compartmentation within the tower with the floors providing at least 30 minutes separation between the different levels. The fire risk assessment is scheduled for a review following the recent works and any issues highlighted in this review will be addressed.

Planning work is being undertaken to move the Parliamentary Archives ahead of Restoration and Renewal of the Palace, under the auspices of the Archives Accommodation Programme. The programme is developing requirements and designs for a range of options. The designs will take into account all known fire risks and will meet the necessary British Standards, both for fire mitigation and for archival storage, care and use of such important heritage collections.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Treasury
Inheritance Tax: Siblings
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 9 April (HL14826), what considerations led them to set aside their proposal to establish a working party on the fiscal disadvantages experienced by sibling couples.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 25 April 2019

The Government keeps all taxes under review. The Office of Tax Simplification are reviewing inheritance tax and will make recommendations that the Government will consider.

The inheritance tax treatment of married couples and civil partners reflects their unique legal relationship, and extending this treatment to siblings would incur an Exchequer cost.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Home Office
Entry Clearances: Overseas Students
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reconsider the requirement that independent educational institutions which establish new sixth forms must wait two years before accepting students from countries outside the EU under the Home Office’s Tier 4 visa arrangements.
Answered on: 24 April 2019

All education institutions which want to recruit international students must demonstrate both a strong record of immigration compliance, by gaining Tier 4 Sponsor status, and a high educational quality, by undergoing an assessment of their educational standards by an independent inspectorate.

This independent educational oversight ensures that only genuine high-quality institutions can sponsor students under the Tier 4 visa arrangements, protecting the UK’s international reputation for excellent educational standards.

A private education provider must have been continuously teaching a course of study that meets Tier 4 requirements to UK or EEA students for two years prior to its inspection. This ensures that such providers receive a meaningful inspection of their teaching provision, and that only genuine private education providers can become Tier 4 sponsors.

The two-year requirement does not apply to other types of Tier 4 sponsor, because they are subject to different statutory inspection arrangements. In the case of independent schools, these include consideration of the institution’s ability to safeguard children. These requirements ensure that international students continue to receive a high-quality education in the UK.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 26 March 2019
Treasury
Inheritance Tax: Siblings
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Bates on 21 March (HL Deb, col 1526), when the cross-departmental working party to consider the fiscal disadvantages experienced by sibling couples will be established; what will be its terms of reference; and when its report will be completed and published.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 09 April 2019
The Government will consider the issue of siblings and inheritance tax through the Office of Tax Simplification’s review of inheritance tax. Their report is due to be published in spring, and their recommendations will be carefully considered.
Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 28 March 2019
Cabinet Office
Honours
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Young of Cookham on 26 March (HL Deb, col 1709), what plans they have to fill the vacancies in the Order of the Companions of Honour.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 02 April 2019

There are currently only two vacancies in the Order of the Companions of Honour. The maximum membership of the Order is 65 people. There have been 28 appointments to the Order since 2014, including five appointments in 2018 and one in 2019. The independent honours committees work closely with Government departments to seek and attract nominees with a wide breadth of outstanding achievement. The committees actively seek to make use of the Order.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Northern Ireland Office
Political Parties: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when details of donations and loans made to political parties in Northern Ireland after January 2014 will be published.
A
Answered on: 12 February 2019

The Transparency of Donations and Loans etc. (Northern Ireland Political Parties) Order 2018 introduced transparency around donations and loans to political parties in Northern Ireland from July 2017. The date set in the legislation for introduction of the transparency regime followed a consultation process and represented a broad consensus across the Northern Ireland political parties.


The Government has no plans in place to legislate to facilitate the publication of pre-2017 data. We are committed to undertaking an operational review to consider all aspects of the operation of the donation and loans systems in Northern Ireland, to review whether there might be a case for further reforms.


Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 23 January 2019
Women and Equalities
Civil Partnerships: Heterosexuality
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 18 January (HL Deb, col 453), when the details of their consultation exercise on civil partnerships will be announced.
Answered on: 07 February 2019

Our consultation on civil partnerships will issue later this year. It will relate to issues concerning opposite-sex civil partnerships for intimate partners.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 23 January 2019
Home Office
Sir Edward Heath
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Baroness Barran on 20 December 2018 (HL Deb, col 1996), when they will provide a full explanation of the reasons behind their decision not to establish an inquiry into the seven outstanding allegations against Sir Edward Heath left open at the end of Operation Conifer.
Answered on: 06 February 2019

The Government has set out its reasons for not establishing an inquiry into the allegations against Sir Edward Heath most recently on the floor of the House on 11 and 18 December 2018. The Home Secretary also wrote to Lord Armstrong of Ilminster on 10 October 2018 and a copy of this letter was placed in the Library of the House. The Government’s position remains as previously set out: there are no grounds to justify review or intervention by Government.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 19 December 2018
Women and Equalities
Civil Partnerships: Heterosexuality
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will carry out a consultation on the planned reforms to civil partnerships announced in October; and if so, when.
Answered on: 07 January 2019

We intend to consult, during 2019, on the planned reforms to allow opposite-sex couples to form a civil partnership.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 26 November 2018
Department for Education
Teachers: Pensions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of maintained and independent schools to afford the increase in the employer’s contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme announced in October.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 10 December 2018

In the schools sector, the department currently proposes to cover the costs of maintained schools, academies, independent special schools and non-maintained special schools. The department will be consulting shortly to form an assessment on the impact these costs will impose on the sector.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 26 November 2018
Department for Education
Teachers: Pensions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received representations from the Independent Schools Council about the forthcoming increase in the employer’s contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme; and if so, what reply they have given.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 10 December 2018

The government has received a number of representations from employer representatives including the Independent Schools Council, to both the Department for Education (DfE) and to Her Majesty’s Treasury (HM Treasury), about the proposed increase in employer contributions and the impact this would have on their schools. HM Treasury and the DfE will be responding imminently.

Q
Asked by Lord Lexden
Asked on: 26 November 2018
Department for Education
Teachers: Pensions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were their reasons for increasing the employer’s contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 10 December 2018

A number of factors determine the cost of providing pensions, most significantly by the Superannuation Contributions Adjusted for Past Experience (SCAPE) rate. The SCAPE discount rate is the central measure of the affordability of public service pension schemes; it is based on the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts for long-term Growth Domestic Product growth. In light of the material change to the OBR forecast compared to the forecast at Budget 2016, and based on the methodology for setting the SCAPE rate as agreed in 2011,
HM Treasury took the decision to set the SCAPE discount rate at 2.4% plus Consumer Price Index from 1 April 2019. This reduction in the SCAPE rate has resulted in an increase to employer contributions in the Teachers Pension Scheme of 7.2 percentage points.[1]

[1] based on an implementation date of 1 September 2019.

Expand all answers
Print selected
Showing 1-20 out of 22
Results per page
Results per page 20 | 50 | 100