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.

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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 Lord Boateng
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Loneliness: Ethnic Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to reflect the experiences of people from BAME backgrounds when (1) raising awareness of the public health implications, and (2) addressing the stigma, of loneliness.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 02 July 2019

Government’s loneliness strategy recognises that loneliness can affect people of all ages and all backgrounds.

The Government is aware of the recent research findings contained in “Barriers to belonging: An exploration of loneliness among people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds”, recently published by the British Red Cross, which will be considered in future work.

On the public health implications, Public Health England (PHE) has supported the development of standard measures of loneliness and has recently consulted on updates to its Public Health Outcomes Framework, which includes consideration of the addition of the standard measure of loneliness, to inform and focus future work.

One aim of Government's recently launched Let’s talk Loneliness campaign is to reduce the stigma of loneliness so that people experiencing it feel they can reach out or take action. This is based on the Mental Health Foundation's research which found that 30% of Britons surveyed said they would be embarrassed to say they felt lonely. The campaign will encourage people across different communities to talk about loneliness.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Loneliness
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the appropriateness of the language used for different cultural and linguistic groups in measuring loneliness in their loneliness strategy.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 02 July 2019

A national loneliness measure was announced in October 2018 as part of the loneliness strategy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) undertook a programme of scoping work to recommend a way of measuring loneliness which would work for people of different ages and backgrounds, including how different loneliness measures compare for use with diverse ethnic groups, including those with limited English.

ONS’s final recommendation of using both direct and indirect measures of loneliness where possible is an approach currently taken by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the Understanding Society study. The recommended measures are well-tested across different surveys and demographics.

ONS worked with the Loneliness Technical Advisory Group to identify a range of criteria regarding the design, sample and geographical coverage of the surveys in which the measure will be included, to build opportunities to improve understanding of differences between ethnic groups.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Loneliness
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the implications of the report by the Red Cross Barriers to belonging, published in June, for their loneliness strategy.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 02 July 2019

“Barriers to belonging: An exploration of loneliness among people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds” highlights that many people from BAME backgrounds face multiple challenges to feeling like they belong and accessing support services. These include increased likelihood of discrimination, not feeling welcome and fear of stigma. The report also points to greater barriers to accessing help for loneliness and joining in community activities, including a lack of money, language barriers and not having enough free time.

The cross government tackling loneliness team will consider the research findings and recommendations made to Government, in its work taking forward the loneliness strategy.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Education
Students: Ethnic Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the role of the Office for Students Evidence and Impact Exchange in promoting best practice in universities to address the attainment gap between BAME and other students.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

The government has asked the Office for Students to set up an Evidence and Impact Exchange to help transform our understanding of what works in driving access and successful participation among disadvantaged and underrepresented students. The new centre, known as the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes (TASO) in higher education (HE), is an affiliate what works centre, and part of the UK government’s what works movement.

TASO will commission, share and support the take-up of evidence on ‘what works’ to improve access and participation in HE in different settings and for different groups of students, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. It will act as a central hub for a wide variety of evidence, helping to ensure that HE spend to widen access and participation by under-represented and disadvantaged students has as big an impact as possible.

TASO has already made its first call for evidence, inviting providers to submit examples of impact evaluation across the student life-cycle.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Education
Students: Ethnic Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of the Race Disparity Audit in addressing inequalities in higher education.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

At the launch of the Race Disparity Audit in October 2017, the government committed to “explain or change” the ethnic disparities on the audit’s Ethnicity facts and figures website.

Since October 2017 the government has taken action, including on tackling disparities in access to and participation in higher education (HE) for ethnic minority students.

The audit’s ethnicity facts and figures website has been continually updated and extended to allow the public to see if ethnic disparities are improving or not, across over 160 important areas of public life. This has included the publication of data on undergraduate degree results and entrants at different HE providers with high, medium and low entry tariffs.

On February 1, the government announced action to tackle disparities in access to, and successful participation in, HE for ethnic minority students; and disparities in recruitment and progression for ethnic minority academics. This included plans to work with league table compilers on how they might consider performance on tackling inequalities between ethnic groups in university rankings, promoting the new transparency condition, and encouraging HE providers to make use of tools such as the Race at Work charter and the Race Equality Charter in their efforts to address inequality.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 16 May 2019
Department for Education
Students: Ethnic Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the implications for university funding of the disparity of outcomes for BAME students in higher education.
Answered on: 23 May 2019

Improving access and outcomes in higher education (HE) for students from disadvantaged or under-represented groups is a priority for the government. Through the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, the government has introduced sweeping reforms to tackle equality of opportunity.

All HE providers in England that register with the Office for Students (OfS) who want to charge more than the basic annual amount for tuition (£6000+) (known as approved fee cap providers), must have an access and participation plan approved by the OfS. Through these plans providers set out what activities they intend to take to ensure students from disadvantaged backgrounds or under-represented groups — such as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students — can access, participate in, succeed in and progress from higher education. Guidance provided to the OfS, by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, identified ensuring BAME students can not only access, but succeed in higher education as a priority.

This year HE providers will, for the first time, be required to publish applications, offer, acceptance, dropout and attainment rates of students by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 26 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commonwealth: Public Records
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to recognise the interests of Commonwealth countries in historical archives relating to the process of decolonisation, in particular when making decisions not to disclose records for the purposes of historical research.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

​The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, like other government departments, selects its archive records for permanent preservation in line with the requirements of the Public Records Act. This includes any records relating to the process of decolonisation. Records selected for permanent preservation are transferred to The National Archives (TNA) where they are available to historians and members of the public, subject to any legal exemptions. TNA holdings can be searched using their online catalogue which is publicly available on their website.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 26 March 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Claudia Jones and George Padmore
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 11 March (HL13972), whether any departments, other than the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, hold archive material on (1) George Padmore, and (2) Claudia Jones.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 08 April 2019

A search of the files held on The National Archives’ online catalogue, Discovery, has revealed no files relating to Claudia Vera Cumberbatch alias ‘Claudia Jones’ and three files relating to Malcolm Ivan Meredith Nurse alias ‘George Padmore’ These can be found here: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C1255063; https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14206480; https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6097450

It should be noted however, that Discovery only searches catalogue descriptions, and does not search the contents of the records in our repositories. This means that these individuals may appear within other records held at The National Archives, for example passenger lists, but this would not be picked up by a Discovery search if their names do not feature prominently enough to be included in the catalogue description provided by the department on transfer.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 20 March 2019
Department for International Development
Zimbabwe: Storms
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the impact of sanctions on Zimbabwe on the relief effort in response to Cyclone Idai.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 01 April 2019

The UK’s focus in responding to Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe is on providing essential health supplies, hygiene kits and child protection support. We continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to provide further support as needed. The EU retains sanctions against former President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace Mugabe, and the company Zimbabwe Defence Industries. We consider that sanctions have been an appropriate response to the political violence of the last 15 years. They do no damage to the wider economy or to the people of Zimbabwe and have no impact on the UK’s relief effort.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Department for International Development
Southern Africa: Storms
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai of the logistical needs of (1) Malawi, (2) Mozambique, and (3) Zimbabwe; and in respect of each, what has been their response.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 01 April 2019

Cyclone Idai has devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. There have so far been over 700 fatalities and the UN estimates that up to 2.6m people may be affected. Mozambique has been the hardest-hit with almost 17,400 houses destroyed and up to 350,000 people at risk due to rising water levels. The UK Government is providing up to £22 million in support, including £4 million to match the UK public’s generous contributions to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal. In Mozambique, UKaid is supporting the World Food Programme to feed 400,000 people and we have sent life-saving relief supplies including tents and thousands of shelter kits. In Malawi, we are helping 140,000 people to feed themselves and in Zimbabwe we are providing essential health supplies, hygiene kits and child protection support. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to provide further support if needed.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Department for International Development
Southern Africa: Storms
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with international relief agencies in order to coordinate assistance to the region affected by Cyclone Idai.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 01 April 2019

The UK is working closely with international partners to address immediate needs across the region. On 21st March, the Secretary of State for International Development spoke with the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and called on him to ensure that the UN mobilises quickly and effectively. Ministers are in touch with other key international figures to ensure an effective response. UK staff on the ground are working closely with relief agencies to coordinate the response, and senior officials are in regular communication with their counterparts across the international community.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Department for International Development
Southern Africa: Storms
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to the deployment of the British Armed Forces to provide engineering and logistical advice and support to the region affected by Cyclone Idai; and whether they have received any requests for such assistance.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 01 April 2019

The UK Government has deployed an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft to deliver up to 20 tonnes of UK aid supplies in support of the cyclone response in Mozambique. DFID, as the lead UK department is working closely with the Ministry of Defence and continues to keep additional options for UK assistance under review.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 25 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Claudia Jones and George Padmore
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the availability of archive material relating to George Padmore and Claudia Jones for use by Commonwealth historians; and what steps they have taken to prevent further destruction of any files relating to them held by government departments or other state agencies.
A
Answered on: 11 March 2019

​The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), like other government departments, is responsible for selecting its archive records for permanent preservation in line with the requirements of the Public Records Act. Records selected for permanent preservation are transferred to The National Archives (TNA) where they are available to historians and members of the public, subject to any legal exemptions. TNA holdings can be searched using their online catalogue which is available on their website.

The FCO has identified two paper files relating to George Padmore which we are currently holding. Both of these files were created by the former Colonial Office and were selected for permanent preservation. One of these files has completed the review process under the Public Records Act and is legally retained by the FCO on grounds of sensitivity. The other file will be transferring to The National Archives later this year. We have not identified any files relating to Claudia Jones in the FCO archive.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 21 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Cameroon about the summonses used against Cameroonian opposition members on charges carrying the death penalty before a military tribunal in that country.
A
Answered on: 07 March 2019

The UK is deeply concerned about the arrest and detention of political actors in Cameroon, including members of the Opposition party, on charges which attract the death penalty. On 13 February the Minister for Africa raised the UK's concerns publicly. She underlined that trials, including of Opposition leader Maurice Kamto, must follow due process and that freedom of speech and political expression are integral to a democratic society. It is a longstanding policy of the British Government to oppose the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle. The UK is a strong supporter of the UN General Assembly Resolution for the moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 01 February 2019
Department for Education
Universities: Ethnic Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what role the Office for Students will play in monitoring the performance of universities in reducing ethnic inequalities in university academic staffing; and what plans they have to require universities to address such inequalities.
Answered on: 11 February 2019

The government and the Office for Students (OfS) are focused on addressing inequalities in higher education. Government consulted on the publication of data on senior staff remuneration, including in relation to gender and ethnicity. The OfS retains the power to require the disclosure of such information through its accounts direction.

Higher education institutions are independent and responsible for decisions about who they employ. Universities, like every employer, must ensure they meet their obligations under the Equality Act 2010. On February 1, the government announced measures to tackle ethnic disparities in higher education including encouraging higher education providers to make use of tools such as the Race at Work Charter and the Race Equality Charter to drive forward a step-change in the recruitment and progression of ethnic minority employees.

The government has also consulted on ethnicity pay reporting in order to inform future government policy.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 01 February 2019
Department for Education
Universities: Ethnic Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the low numbers of university academics and staff from black and minority ethnic backgrounds on the attainment of black and minority ethnic students.
Answered on: 11 February 2019

Higher education institutions are independent and responsible for decisions about who they employ. Universities, like every employer, must ensure they meet their obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Through the Race Disparity Audit, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister set out her expectation that more must be done to create a workforce that is representative of British society today. On 1 February, the government launched measures to drive change in tackling inequalities between ethnic groups in higher education.

Equality and Diversity in higher education is a priority for government and the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS will use Access and Participation Plans to hold higher education providers to account for disparities in access and attainment of black and ethnic minority students.

This year, for the first time, registered higher education providers will be required to publish data on measures including attainment broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic groups. This will increase transparency on attainment gaps for ethnic minority students, shining a light on those providers that are not performing well.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 29 November 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Cameroon about the killing of Father Cosmas Ondari; and what steps they are taking with that government to end the violence in English-speaking Cameroon.
A
Answered on: 10 December 2018

​We were saddened by the reports of Father Ondari's death and send our deepest condolences to his family. All missionaries and humanitarian workers should be able to work and support communities safely. The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in Cameroon and the deteriorating security situation in the Anglophone regions of the country. The Minister for Africa made a statement following the elections in Cameroon, calling for all parties to engage in a peaceful and structured process leading to constitutional reforms, as previously set out by the President, and to bring an end to the violence. The UK will continue to work alongside the international community to encourage and support efforts to resolve the Anglophone crisis.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 29 November 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) response of the government of Cameroon to the initiative by leaders of the Catholic and Presbyterian churches in that country, and the Central mosques of Bamenda and Buea for an Anglophone General Conference, and (2) prospects of a peaceful settlement to the conflict between anglophone and francophone Cameroons.
A
Answered on: 10 December 2018

​The UK supports calls for the Government of Cameroon to engage in a substantive dialogue with the Anglophone community to tackle the crisis in the Anglophone regions. In this regard we welcome the initiative of the Anglophone General Conference and those put forward by a range of religious groups to promote an inclusive process of national dialogue that addresses the core issues.

The UK is deeply concerned at the deteriorating violence and displacement of civilians in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. It is vital the Government of Cameroon urgently engages in a meaningful dialogue.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 18 October 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Elections
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the fairness of the presidential election held in Cameroon on 7 October.
A
Answered on: 30 October 2018

The African Union's Election Observation Mission found that the elections were conducted in a relatively orderly manner in most of the country but violence affected polling in the Anglophone regions. The Minister for Africa was concerned by reports of violence and casualties on polling day in Anglophone regions and by how difficult it was for citizens to vote there. She called on all parties to follow proper procedure for tallying results and exercise restraint.

Q
Asked by Lord Boateng
Asked on: 18 October 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Elections
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what conclusions, if any, they have drawn from the discrepancy in turn-out between the Anglophone and Francophone regions of Cameroon in the presidential elections on 7 October.
A
Answered on: 29 October 2018

The African Union's Election Observation Mission found that violence affected polling in the Anglophone regions owing to fears about insecurity, intimidation by armed separatist groups, a call to boycott the election and the long distances and lack of transport available to reach the reduced number of polling stations. The Minister for Africa was concerned by reports of violence and casualties on polling day in Anglophone regions and by how difficult it was for citizens to vote there.

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