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.

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 26
Results per page
Results per page 20 | 50 | 100
Expand all answers
Print selected
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to consult key stakeholders and external experts on future Data Protection Impact Assessments for the management, storage and handling of NHS controlled data.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Under the General Data Protection Regulations 2016, data controllers are under a legal obligation to complete Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) particularly where it involves high risk processing. All National Health Service organisations processing patient data as data controllers are therefore required to complete DPIAs and where necessary, to consult with key stakeholders to ensure risks to privacy are identified and mitigated as far as possible.

A DPIA for the NHS COVID-19 Data Store has been completed and is published on the NHS England website. The data held in the Data Store has gone through a process of pseudonymisation. Identifiable data is not held or made available to users and nor are they permitted to remove the data from the controlled area.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment on the rights and freedoms of the people whose health data is collected by the NHS; and whether any such data is protected against access by intelligence services.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Under the General Data Protection Regulations 2016, data controllers are under a legal obligation to complete Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) particularly where it involves high risk processing. All National Health Service organisations processing patient data as data controllers are therefore required to complete DPIAs and where necessary, to consult with key stakeholders to ensure risks to privacy are identified and mitigated as far as possible. It would be inappropriate for the Government to undertake a DPIA in relation to the health data held by those organisations. It is the responsibility of each of these organisations to protect the confidentiality of patients and to ensure that there is a legal basis for the disclosure of any personal information.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Technology: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to competitively tender for future technology products and services that were commissioned during the first stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 20 July 2020

The Department and its agencies have always secured digital and technology products and services in accordance with the requirements of United Kingdom procurement laws and will continue to do so; in responding quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has made direct awards where permitted under regulation 32 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Medical Records: Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether notices issued under the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 in March cover the release of patient identifiable information to local public health teams; and if so, which (1) legal, or (2) policy, provisions prevent local directors of public health from receiving such information.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 17 July 2020

It is of vital importance that the health and care sector is able to access the data it needs to respond to COVID-19. A Control of Patient Information Notice was issued to require a range of organisations to share and process data for COVID-19 purposes. This should include sharing data with public health teams responding to COVID-19.

The Notice only applies to data processed for COVID-19 purposes and organisations must also meet other regulatory and legal requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation.

Public Health England is making available to all local authorities information on positive tests

for COVID-19. Public Health England also routinely shares personal data with local authorities to manage and control local clusters and outbreaks of certain infectious diseases.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Medical Records: Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Data Protection Impact Assessment for the NHS COVID-19 Data Store published on 5 June covers the release of patient identifiable information to local public health teams; and if so, which (1) legal, or (2) policy, provisions prevent local directors of public health from receiving such information.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 17 July 2020

The COVID-19 Data Store does not hold patient identifiable data, as all data is de-identified (pseudonymised) in line with Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance and best practice, prior to being imported to the database. Therefore, the release of patient identifiable information to local public health teams, via the COVID-19 Data Store, is not possible.

NHS England is the data controller for all data held within the COVID-19 data store and ensures (via contractual arrangements) that data storage and processes are fully compliant with legislation and best practice.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Infrastructure and Projects Authority: Contact Tracing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (1) has been, or (2) will be, involved in the NHS Test and Trace programme.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 17 July 2020

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has been and continues to be involved with the NHS Test and Trace Programme. IPA provided assurance at the outset and has since supported independent peer reviews. IPA will continue to be involved by providing advice and support.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Palantir: Data Protection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Data Protection Impact Assessment of Palantir’s role in combining NHS data had no analysis of data analytics as contained in their G-Cloud 11 call-Off contract (version 4); and whether they intend to publish an additional report to cover this.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 07 July 2020

Whilst we have made no specific assessment, the Government is committed to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to be one of the best places in the world for research and innovation and is at the forefront of health and social care research internationally and specifically, global research on pandemics.

The UK has pledged £388 million in aid funding for research into vaccines, tests and treatments which is part of a larger £744 million existing commitment to help end the pandemic and support the global economy. This also includes £250 million for global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop vaccines against coronaviruses. The UK will also provide £330 million a year for the next five years to the Global Vaccine Alliance, readying it to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine in developing countries.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHSX: Faculty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish a Data Protection Impact Assessment of Faculty AI’s work on data dashboards and modelling for NHSX.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 07 July 2020

The Data Protection Impact Assessment is already published online by NHS England.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
New Businesses: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to increase (1) access to data controlled by the NHS, and (2) associated opportunities to innovate, for UK start-ups and SMEs (a) during, and (b) after, the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 07 July 2020

To simplify access to data controlled by the National Health Service and encourage innovation partnerships, the Government is developing a policy framework underpinned by five guiding principles. This will offer support and guidance to NHS organisations that are considering entering into data access agreements with researchers and commercial partners.

The framework is expected to be published later this year and is being developed in consultation with patient representative groups, health and data experts, NHS bodies and industry. To support the NHS in embedding the framework in practice, the Government has set up a National Centre of Expertise in NHSX to provide commercial and legal expertise to NHS organisations on agreeing fair terms when negotiating partnerships.

The Government has also committed funding for the Digital Innovation Hubs Programme which aims to enable a United Kingdom-wide life sciences environment that provides responsible and safe access to rich, research-ready health data, technology and science, research and innovation services.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Contact Tracing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 tests have been made available but not processed as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme, broken down by the local authority area (1) to which they were sent, or (2) in which they were administered.
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been the total cost of COVID-19 tests which have been made available but not processed since 1 January.
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 tests have been made available but not processed; and of those, how many relate to each pillar of the NHS Test and Trace programme.
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 03 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Equality
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Summary of Impacts: Coronavirus Bill, published on 19 March, when they will publish the equalities assessment undertaken as part of the Public Sector Equalities Duty.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 30 June 2020

The duty to have regard to the impact on equalities is an ongoing one.

The Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability is reflected in the duties set out in the Coronavirus Act 2020 to publish a status report every two months; carry out a review every six months with a debate and vote in the House of Commons; and publish a status report for debate in both Houses after one year.

We are considering how best to update Parliament on the equalities impact of the legislation as part of this broader commitment.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Urban Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to mandate the rollout by Openreach of fibre-to-the-premises broadband to urban areas; and what is their timeframe for this rollout.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 02 June 2020

The Government's ambition is for nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband as soon as possible. Gigabit capable broadband can be delivered by fibre to the premise broadband, as well as other technologies, such as upgraded cable networks.

We believe the best way to deliver nationwide coverage is to promote network competition and commercial investment by BT Openreach and other operators wherever possible, and to intervene with public subsidy where necessary. To deliver this, we are taking action to reduce barriers to commercial deployment including, for example, through the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold) Property Bill, which will make it easier to connect tenanted properties with an unresponsive landlord. At Budget, we also committed to invest £5 billion to deliver gigabit capable deployment to the hardest to reach areas of the country.

The Government does not have formal powers to mandate the rollout of gigabit capable broadband by a private sector company like BT. However, BT recently announced their ambition to deliver gigabit connectivity to 20 million premises during the 2020s.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in ensuring that every home and business in the UK will have access to (1) full fibre, and (2) gigabit-capable, broadband by 2025.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 02 June 2020

Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations update found that, as of January 2020, over 3.5 million premises or 12% of the UK had access to full fibre broadband. This represents a considerable increase from 7% coverage in January 2019. In addition, the independent ThinkBroadband website estimates that around 19% of UK premises currently have access to gigabit capable broadband, including full fibre, but also upgraded cable broadband.

Full fibre figures for London boroughs are generally higher than the UK average. According to Connected Nations, 19 London Boroughs had full fibre coverage above the national average. However, there are notable differences between boroughs, ranging from full fibre coverage of 50.9% in Barking and Dagenham, compared to 1.1% in Bromley.


We are taking action to reduce barriers to commercial deployment and are confident that telecoms providers will step up and deliver gigabit capable coverage across London by 2025.

Grouped Questions: HL4656
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Greater London
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect (1) full fibre, and (2) gigabit-capable, broadband will be available to every home and business in London.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 02 June 2020

Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations update found that, as of January 2020, over 3.5 million premises or 12% of the UK had access to full fibre broadband. This represents a considerable increase from 7% coverage in January 2019. In addition, the independent ThinkBroadband website estimates that around 19% of UK premises currently have access to gigabit capable broadband, including full fibre, but also upgraded cable broadband.

Full fibre figures for London boroughs are generally higher than the UK average. According to Connected Nations, 19 London Boroughs had full fibre coverage above the national average. However, there are notable differences between boroughs, ranging from full fibre coverage of 50.9% in Barking and Dagenham, compared to 1.1% in Bromley.


We are taking action to reduce barriers to commercial deployment and are confident that telecoms providers will step up and deliver gigabit capable coverage across London by 2025.

Grouped Questions: HL4655
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Urban Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they provide to broadband consumers in urban areas who are not able to access superfast broadband from Openreach.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 01 June 2020

According to Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations report, more than 98% of premises in urban areas can access superfast broadband. The Government’s Superfast programme has been instrumental in reaching this level of coverage, with £1.8 billion invested to date. The programme is still ongoing, and future delivery will further increase superfast coverage.

For consumers unable to access download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second, including those on exchange only lines, the Government has legislated to introduce the broadband Universal Service Obligation, which provides households with a legal right to request this minimum speed up to a reasonable cost threshold of £3,400 per premise.

In addition, the Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and has already invested in stimulating demand for gigabit broadband, including in urban areas. The £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks programme has funded projects in urban areas such as Belfast and London, for example.

The Government has also announced that it will invest a further £5 billion to provide gigabit-capable networks in the hardest to parts of the UK. This funding will focus on connecting more rural and remote areas but, alongside this, the Government is also taking action to reduce the barriers to deployment, and make it cheaper and easier for BT Openreach and other operators to roll out broadband commercially, including in urban and suburban areas. For example, we are taking the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill through Parliament, which will make it easier for network builders to access blocks of flats where there is an absent or unresponsive landlord.

Finally, mobile network operators already provide 4G mobile broadband services which provide a viable alternative to superfast coverage in urban areas. In addition, according to Ofcom’s December 2019 Connected Nations report, more than 40 towns and cities already have access to even faster 5G mobile services, and the rollout has developed further since then.

As part of this, the Government has allocated £200 million from 2017 to March 2022 to support the further development of 5G through its 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme, including up to £20 million in the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Programme (over three years, to March 2022).

Grouped Questions: HL4652 | HL4654
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Urban Areas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they provide to broadband consumers who are unable to access (1) fibre-to-the-premises, or (2) fibre-to-the-cabinet, broadband from Openreach in urban areas where Openreach has no plans to make such services available.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 01 June 2020

According to Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations report, more than 98% of premises in urban areas can access superfast broadband. The Government’s Superfast programme has been instrumental in reaching this level of coverage, with £1.8 billion invested to date. The programme is still ongoing, and future delivery will further increase superfast coverage.

For consumers unable to access download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second, including those on exchange only lines, the Government has legislated to introduce the broadband Universal Service Obligation, which provides households with a legal right to request this minimum speed up to a reasonable cost threshold of £3,400 per premise.

In addition, the Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and has already invested in stimulating demand for gigabit broadband, including in urban areas. The £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks programme has funded projects in urban areas such as Belfast and London, for example.

The Government has also announced that it will invest a further £5 billion to provide gigabit-capable networks in the hardest to parts of the UK. This funding will focus on connecting more rural and remote areas but, alongside this, the Government is also taking action to reduce the barriers to deployment, and make it cheaper and easier for BT Openreach and other operators to roll out broadband commercially, including in urban and suburban areas. For example, we are taking the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill through Parliament, which will make it easier for network builders to access blocks of flats where there is an absent or unresponsive landlord.

Finally, mobile network operators already provide 4G mobile broadband services which provide a viable alternative to superfast coverage in urban areas. In addition, according to Ofcom’s December 2019 Connected Nations report, more than 40 towns and cities already have access to even faster 5G mobile services, and the rollout has developed further since then.

As part of this, the Government has allocated £200 million from 2017 to March 2022 to support the further development of 5G through its 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme, including up to £20 million in the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Programme (over three years, to March 2022).

Grouped Questions: HL4651 | HL4654
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all consumers with exchange-only broadband connections are able to access superfast broadband.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 01 June 2020

According to Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations report, more than 98% of premises in urban areas can access superfast broadband. The Government’s Superfast programme has been instrumental in reaching this level of coverage, with £1.8 billion invested to date. The programme is still ongoing, and future delivery will further increase superfast coverage.

For consumers unable to access download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second, including those on exchange only lines, the Government has legislated to introduce the broadband Universal Service Obligation, which provides households with a legal right to request this minimum speed up to a reasonable cost threshold of £3,400 per premise.

In addition, the Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and has already invested in stimulating demand for gigabit broadband, including in urban areas. The £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks programme has funded projects in urban areas such as Belfast and London, for example.

The Government has also announced that it will invest a further £5 billion to provide gigabit-capable networks in the hardest to parts of the UK. This funding will focus on connecting more rural and remote areas but, alongside this, the Government is also taking action to reduce the barriers to deployment, and make it cheaper and easier for BT Openreach and other operators to roll out broadband commercially, including in urban and suburban areas. For example, we are taking the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill through Parliament, which will make it easier for network builders to access blocks of flats where there is an absent or unresponsive landlord.

Finally, mobile network operators already provide 4G mobile broadband services which provide a viable alternative to superfast coverage in urban areas. In addition, according to Ofcom’s December 2019 Connected Nations report, more than 40 towns and cities already have access to even faster 5G mobile services, and the rollout has developed further since then.

As part of this, the Government has allocated £200 million from 2017 to March 2022 to support the further development of 5G through its 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme, including up to £20 million in the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Programme (over three years, to March 2022).

Grouped Questions: HL4651 | HL4652
Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 21 April 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Finance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding is available to help with the cost of installing (1) superfast, and (2) gigabit-capable, broadband to residential premises, either individually or as part of a Community Fibre Partnership; and whether such funding is available throughout the UK.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 28 April 2020

Under the Government’s Superfast Broadband programme, premises that are included in a rollout programme do not need to pay for the upgrade to their broadband speeds. They are, however, liable for the recurring costs associated with taking out a superfast service once the upgrade has been completed. These publicly funded rollout programmes are taking place across the UK. To date £1.8 billion of public funding has been invested into this programme, and a further £836 million of new procurement is underway utilising a variety of public funding sources.

Delivery under the Superfast programme is now utilising Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) technology where possible. This technology provides homes and businesses with a fast, reliable and future-proof connection. Furthermore commercial build operators are also rolling out FTTP to homes and businesses across the UK. This commercial build activity is not utilising public funding.

Through our Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme (RGC), DCMS runs a voucher scheme that can be used by rural communities across the UK to reduce the cost of installing gigabit-capable connectivity. This provides a voucher worth up to £3,500 for eligible small businesses and vouchers worth up to £1,500 for residents.

Community Fibre Partnerships are an initiative offered by Openreach. Openreach will work with local communities to build a customised fibre solution to bring fibre broadband to homes and businesses. A joint funding arrangement is put in place, which means Openreach will contribute to some of the costs and the rest is funded by the community.

Our vouchers can be used in an Openreach Community Fibre Partnership to reduce the costs borne by the community. It is worth noting, however, that Openreach is not the only supplier offering community fibre solutions, and we have over 700 network suppliers registered on the scheme. Our voucher website enables residents or small businesses to enter their postcode and see which suppliers are active in their area.

Expand all answers
Print selected
Showing 1-20 out of 26
Results per page
Results per page 20 | 50 | 100