Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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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
(South West Wiltshire)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Protective Clothing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the (a) evidence base used (b) authorities consulted by Public Health England in formulating its guidance on the use of PPE in care settings in which cardiac arrest is likely.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 05 June 2020
Holding answer received on 02 June 2020

The United Kingdom’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance continues to recommend the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and social care teams treating COVID-19 patients. It is crucial that everyone that needs it has access to the right protective equipment.

The Department’s, New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) recently reviewed the evidence and has maintained this position, stating that they do “not consider that the evidence supports chest compressions or defibrillation being procedures that are associated with a significantly increased risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections”. Further information is available at the following link:

https://app.box.com/s/3lkcbxepqixkg4mv640dpvvg978ixjtf/file/657486851975

Grouped Questions: 49611 | 49613
Q
(South West Wiltshire)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: First Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether care home staff are permitted without Level 3 PPE to undertake cardiopulmonary resuscitation on (a) residents who have tested positive for covid-19 (b) and residents whose covid-19 status is undetermined .
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 05 June 2020
Holding answer received on 02 June 2020

The United Kingdom’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance continues to recommend the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and social care teams treating COVID-19 patients. It is crucial that everyone that needs it has access to the right protective equipment.

The Department’s, New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) recently reviewed the evidence and has maintained this position, stating that they do “not consider that the evidence supports chest compressions or defibrillation being procedures that are associated with a significantly increased risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections”. Further information is available at the following link:

https://app.box.com/s/3lkcbxepqixkg4mv640dpvvg978ixjtf/file/657486851975

Grouped Questions: 49611 | 49612
Q
Asked by Wera Hobhouse
(Bath)
Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Vitamin C: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the efficacy of Vitamin C in boosting immunity to covid-19.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The Government has not undertaken a specific assessment of vitamin C in relation to COVID-19. However, Public Health England (PHE) is not aware of any robust evidence that vitamin C can “boost” the immune system to prevent us from catching COVID-19 or mitigate its effects.

PHE is monitoring emerging evidence on nutrition and COVID-19 and assessing its quality, involving the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition as appropriate.

Q
Asked by Saqib Bhatti
(Meriden)
Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of when it will be safe for dentists and dental practitioners to re-open.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 05 June 2020

National Health Service dentistry was reorganised in late March along with other NHS primary care services to minimise face to face care to contain the spread of COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic. Dentists were asked to suspend all routine treatment and instead to offer urgent advice and, where required, prescriptions for antibiotics by telephone. Urgent treatment was made available through urgent dental centres (UDCs) set up in each NHS region.

As of 25 May there are currently over 550 UDCs open. Patients are triaged into UDCs by their own dentistry or through NHS 111. The UDCs are expected to provide, where urgently needed, the full range of dental treatment normally available on the NHS.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dentistry outside UDCs will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety. The letter to dentists setting this out is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

Q
Asked by Ian Murray
(Edinburgh South)
Asked on: 20 May 2020
Treasury
Ministers: Codes of Practice
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many written instructions as described in section 5.5 of the Ministerial Code have been issued by Ministers in each year since 2010; for what reason each instruction was issued; and in which Department they were issued.
A
Answered by: Steve Barclay
Answered on: 05 June 2020

Ministerial Directions are published on gov.uk. As set out in paragraph 3.4.5. of “Managing Public Money”,[1] it is the responsibility of the relevant accounting officer to arrange for the existence of the direction to be published, no later than in the next report and accounts, unless the matter must be kept confidential.

There have been 27 Ministerial Directions published since April 2011, set out in the table attached. Prior to this date, publication was not required.

Date

Department

Direction

Reason(s)

Links

January 2015

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Hatfield Colliery Partnership Ltd

Value for money

AO request Min direction

February 2015

Department for Transport

Northern and TransPennine Express franchises 2015: invitations to tender

Value for money

AO request Min direction

March 2015

Department for Transport

Manston Airport: procuring consultants for independent review

Value for Money

AO request Min direction

June 2015

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Royal Mail Employee Shares (1)

Value for money

AO request Min direction

June 2015

Cabinet Office and Duchy of Lancaster

Kids Company

Value for money

AO request Min direction

June 2015

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Flood reinsurance scheme

Value for money

AO request Min direction

October 2015

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Royal Mail Employee Shares (2)

Value for money

AO request Min direction

October 2015

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Redcar Steelworks

Value for money

AO request Min direction

May 2016

Department for Transport

London Garden Bridge

Value for money

AO request Min direction

July 2016

Cabinet Office

Special Advisers’ Pay

Value for money

AO request Min direction

January 2018

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

European Union exit costs

Propriety

AO request Min direction

February 2018

Department for Transport

European Union exit preparations

Propriety

AO request Min direction

March 2018

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Local government overpayment

Propriety

AO request Min direction

March 2018

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

European Union exit preparations – market surveillance

Propriety

AO request Min direction

March 2018

Department for International Trade

Spend before Royal Assent on EU Exit costs

Propriety

AO request Min direction

May 2018

Department for Education

T Levels delivery time-table

Feasibility

AO request Min direction

June 2018

UK Export Finance

Support for export of Typhoon aircraft to Qatar

Value for money

AO request Min direction

April 2019

UK Export Finance

Increased cover for Iraq

Regularity and value for money

AO request Min direction

May 2019

Ministry of Justice

Financial assistance for subcontractors affected by the collapse of Working Links

Value for money

AO request Min direction

May 2019

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Remediation of private sector residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding

Value for money

AO request Min Direction

July 2019

Home Office

Windrush Compensation Scheme

Regularity and Propriety

AO request Min Direction

November 2019

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Continuation of Official Receiver’s Indemnity

Value for money

AO request Min direction

November 2019

National Health Service

NHS Pension tax charges

Regularity and Priority

AO request Min direction

March 2020

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

(Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support Fund for Retail, hospitality and Leisure Business

Value for Money Feasibility

AO request Ministerial Direction

March 2020

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Coronavirus COVID-19 the Small Grants Fund

Value for Money Feasibility

AO request Ministerial Direction

March 2020

Department for Health and Social Care

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Ministerial direction on spend.

Regularity

AO request Ministerial Direction

May 2020

Ministry of Communities and Local Government

Grant for unsafe cladding

Value for Money

AO request Ministerial Direction

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/managing-public-money

Q
(Christchurch)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason it is his policy that routine dentistry is not permitted under covid-19 outbreak restrictions; what assessment he has made of the potential merits of permitting private dentists to resume routine dentistry services provided they do not use high intensity aerosols; what his most recent assessment is of the (a) quality and (b) availability of dentistry services available since the start of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 05 June 2020
Holding answer received on 02 June 2020

National Health Service dentistry was reorganised in late March along with other NHS primary care services to minimise face to face care to contain the spread of COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic. Dentists were asked to suspend all routine treatment and instead to offer urgent advice and, where required, prescriptions for antibiotics by telephone. Urgent treatment was made available through urgent dental centres (UDCs) set up in each NHS region.

As of 25 May there are currently over 550 UDCs open. Patients are triaged into UDCs by their own dentistry or through NHS 111. The UDCs are expected to provide, where urgently needed, the full range of dental treatment normally available on the NHS.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dentistry outside urgent care centres will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety. The letter to dentists setting this out is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

Q
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to carry out exploratory assessments into whether those children classed as vulnerable who did not physically attend schools during the COVID-19 lockdown had a recognised category of special educational needs and particularly those of the neuro-diverse types including (1) dyslexia, (2) autism, (3) dyspraxia, and (4) Attention Deficit Disorder.
A
Answered by: Baroness Berridge
Answered on: 05 June 2020

There are no plans to assess the special educational needs categorisation of children classed as vulnerable who have not attended school during partial closures.

The department will continue to ask schools to report on attendance overall, as well as attendance by vulnerable pupils, including those with education, health and care plans and social workers, beyond 1 June, when schools began welcoming back more children.

The department carries out analysis on the regional attendance trends which is used to support decision-making and to inform conversations with special educational needs and disabilities leads in local authorities.

Q
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Education
Physical Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans are in place to provide structured physical education for any children returning to school before the 2020 summer break.
A
Answered by: Baroness Berridge
Answered on: 05 June 2020

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as possible because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.

We are working to ensure that schools are fully supported when they open more widely. Schools are free to organise and deliver a PE curriculum that suits the needs of all their pupils whilst following COVID-19 government guidelines. Our latest guidance for schools can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

We want every child to be able to do the 60 minutes a day of physical activity recommended by the UK Chief Medical Officers. This is important for their physical and mental wellbeing and will be especially important for children who have had restricted opportunity to exercise while at home. The government is working closely with nurseries, schools, physical activity experts and sport providers to ensure that there is advice and resources to support everyone to participate in regular exercise. We are advising schools to use outside space for exercise where possible and encourage activities such as supervised non-touch running games.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, working alongside Sport England, launched a £195 million package to help the sport and physical activity sector through the COVID-19 outbreak, with more recent guidance published on the phased return of grassroots sport and recreation:

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Home Office
Immigrants: Health Services
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the net financial benefit to the NHS from the immigration health surcharge in each year since the surcharge was introduced; and what proportion of total annual income from the immigration health surcharge comes from foreign nationals working in the health and care sector.
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The Home Office does not collate or publish the breakdown of Immigration Health Surcharge income collected from foreign nationals working in the health and social care sector.

Income data for the Immigration Health Surcharge is published annually in the Home Office Annual Report and Accounts.

Please see page137 of the Home Office 2018-19 Annual Report and Accounts for the most recent disclosure of Immigration Health Surcharge income:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/807126/6.5571_HO_Annual_Report_201920_WEB.PDF

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fruit and Vegetables: Production
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the availability of a diverse range of UK-grown vegetables and fruit in areas local to their production.
A
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The Government recognises the crucial role the UK's horticulture industry plays in both feeding the country and in promoting people's health and wellbeing. The UK has the climate, the landscape, and entrepreneurial farmers and growers to enable us to produce world-class fruit and vegetables.

We are proud of our growing food reputation. Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs), whether they be for beef from Scotland, lamb from Wales or asparagus from the Vale of Evesham in England, play an important role as exemplars of our quality produce. We are committed to celebrating the success of these regional and traditional products whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed, along with driving further market access to make sure they are enjoyed here and around the world.

We will always champion our farmers and growers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public. This includes through using powers under our landmark Agriculture Bill, and through our work with the Food and Drink Sector Council, a formal industry partnership with the Government, helping to create a more productive and sustainable food and drink sector.

The UK has a high degree of food security, built on access to a range of sources including strong domestic production and imports from other countries. Half of the food we eat is produced in the UK. The rest of our food is imported, with 30% coming from the EU and 20% from other countries. The UK's current production to supply ratio is 75% for indigenous-type foods and 61% for all foods. We produce 61% - 75% of our food supply, but some of that is exported.

Under the current EU State Aid rules we have been unable to promote our home produced food and drink to the domestic market in Government sponsored campaigns nationally. However, we continue to work with regional food groups to showcase their top-quality produce locally; tying this up where we can with stakeholder initiatives (such as those of the AHDB), focussing on provenance and the UKs world-leading standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to restore the policy of publishing standalone Sustainable MOD annual reports to ensure that the records of all military greenhouse gas emissions each year are easily accessible.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 05 June 2020

Ministry of Defence greenhouse gas emissions and performance against targets are reported in the Department's Annual Report and Accounts.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Arms Trade: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on (1) future UK arms sales, and (2) existing arms contracts.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 05 June 2020

It is not yet clear what the full impact will be of the Covid-19 outbreak on existing Ministry of Defence contracts, although it is inevitable that there will be some repercussions. We remain closely engaged with our strategic suppliers to monitor and understand the impact of Covid-19 on defence during this critical time.

The Department for International Trade's Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO) has not made a formal assessment on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on future UK arms sales or existing arms contracts. DIT DSO remains in close contact with industry and is actively monitoring the situation through its Industry Engagement Plan. DIT DSO will continue to support UK defence and security industries to export, post COVID-19.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradley
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the number of releases from prison over the next 12 months of the Parole Board’s decision to postpone face-to-face hearings due to COVID-19.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The Parole Board take a detailed and sophisticated approach to assessing whether the statutory release test, set by Parliament, is met to ensure the protection of the public. In the temporary absence of face-to-face hearings, the Board has introduced measures to ensure as many parole hearings continue through the use of an intensive paper review process and by telephone and video technology to determine whether it is safe for the protection of the public for an offender to be released. Through these measures, the Board reports it is successfully managing to progress and make decisions without compromising the quality or integrity of the risk assessment process. If that is sustained, the Board does not envisage any significant impact on the number of release decisions it makes.

Q
Asked by Lord German
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners have been tested for COVID-19 (1) in each of the last five weeks, and (2) in total up to 20 May.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 05 June 2020

NHS England and Improvement is responsible for commissioning healthcare in prisons and are, therefore, responsible for testing for Covid-19. As such, we do not hold this data on prisoner testing.

Covid-19 testing is ongoing in prisons and is being conducted by internal or external healthcare practitioners on symptomatic prisoners on site. The testing capacity is dependent on local commissioning services, therefore the numbers of those tested varies by establishment. Prisoners that require hospital care are being transferred to hospital and may also be tested there.

Q
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Public Lavatories: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that public toilets reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Greenhalgh
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The government has published guidance (attached) on safer public spaces. It includes advice, information and examples of the potential interventions that can be used in public places to facilitate social distancing in areas of higher footfall such as in parks (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safer-public-places-urban-centres-and-green-spaces-covid-19). Owners and operators are advised to implement cleaning protocols to limit coronavirus transmission in public places. It is advised that touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.

To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to: configuration of toilet facilities to ensure they are kept clean, with social distancing achieved as far as possible and with best practice handwashing followed; where possible, providing hand towels as an alternative to hand dryers in handwashing facilities; signs at public toilets for queuing, social distancing and automatic sanitising; using signs and messages to build awareness of good handwashing technique and other respiratory hygiene behaviours, e.g. around coughing and sneezing in public places; where possible, providing hand towels as an alternative to hand dryers in handwashing facilities; and queue marking indicators at main entrance, popular park destinations and toilets.

We have now made £3.2 billion available to local authorities through an unringfenced grant so they can address pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package recognises the additional costs and pressures on finances councils are facing as a result of the current crisis. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making sure councils, including upper and lower tier authorities, have the resources they need to support their communities through this challenging time.

Safer public places guidance (PDF Document, 7.53 MB)
Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Home Office
Refugees: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to participate in discussions with UNHCR about the relocation of unaccompanied refugee children now in Europe, in particular those in Greece; and if not, why not.
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The UK maintains an ongoing dialogue with UNHRC and has a strong and constructive relationship across a range of asylum and resettlement issues.

In 2016 Parliament agreed a one-off commitment to relocate 480 unaccompanied children from Europe to the UK under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (‘the Dubs amendment’). 478 children from Greece, Italy and France have now successfully transferred to the UK under this scheme and we remain committed to completing the final two transfers as soon as it is safe to do so.

Under the Dublin III Regulation, the UK will also continue to transfer children from Greece if they have family in the UK until the end of the transition period. The UK remains fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Dublin Regulation. Despite covid-19 restrictions, the UK is ready to accept transfers under Dublin whenever Member States are in a position to make those arrangements. Following close collaboration with the Greek Government, 50 asylum seekers arrived in the UK from Greece on 11 May in order to unite with family members who were already lawfully present in the UK.

Protecting vulnerable children is a key priority for the Government. In 2019, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any country in the EU and accounted for approximately 20% of all reported UASC claims made in the UK and the 27 EU Member States.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the rationale for applying the benefit cap to Universal Credit claimants who have been furloughed, or whose working hours have reduced, but who do not qualify for the grace period when those in a similar situation but claiming working tax credit are still able to receive their full entitlement.
A
Answered by: Baroness Stedman-Scott
Answered on: 05 June 2020

Universal Credit is fundamentally different to legacy benefits and claims cannot be compared like for like.

Claimants can approach their Local Authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment if they need additional help to meet rental costs. Exemptions will also continue to apply for the most vulnerable claimants that are entitled to disability benefits and carer benefits.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Cabinet Office
Office for Tackling Injustices
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to establish the Office for Tackling Injustices, created in July 2019; and what are that Office’s priorities.
A
Answered by: Lord True
Answered on: 05 June 2020

We are considering how best to take forward the work of the Office for Tackling Injustices in the light of the Government’s domestic priorities.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Reading Prison: Change of Use
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review their decision to reject Reading Council’s bid to convert HM Prison Reading into an art centre; and what consideration they gave to the preservation of the building as an arts venue.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 05 June 2020

Marketing of the former prison at Reading has completed and a preferred bidder selected. We have no plans to review our decision not to progress with any of the other bids for the site. A range of factors were considered in assessing which bid represented the best value for the department and the taxpayer.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Women and Equalities
Gender Recognition: Discrimination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to (1) amend the Equality Act 2010, and (2) introduce new legislation, to ensure that there is a clear legal definition of transgender discrimination.
A
Answered by: Baroness Berridge
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The Equality Act 2010 includes a clear legal definition of transgender discrimination. Under the Act a person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if that person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. For the purposes of the Act, somebody with this protected characteristic is known as a transsexual person and in general cannot be treated differently for being transsexual.

The government will publish its response to the GRA consultation in due course, which will take into account any changes to legislation that may be necessary.

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