Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

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

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Bolton South East)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Justice
Courts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many court rooms have been assessed for (a) general health and safety standards and (b) their suitability for digital working in the last 12 months.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 18 February 2020

I am answering these questions together.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s Health and Safety policy requires that a trained general risk assessor inspects each court room on a quarterly basis to ensure it is compliant with health and safety standards, and to report any non-compliance so that remedial work can be undertaken.

Where Display Screen Equipment is used, including courtrooms across the estate into which we are continuing to introduce digital ways of working as part of our Reform Programme, the policy requires that workstations must comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended).

Accordingly, the designated Senior Person on Site at all of our court and tribunal buildings is required to ensure that each workstation is routinely assessed; any non-compliance is reported and remedied; and any risk is appropriately mitigated.

We do not collate centrally details of the numbers of courtroom assessments that have taken place over particular periods. Instead, the HMCTS Corporate Safety & Security team seeks and receives regular assurance from senior managers about compliance with these and wider requirements.

Grouped Questions: 14653
Q
(North West Durham)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Prescription Drugs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) tackle the over-prescribing of medicines and (b) ensure reviews of prescriptions are carried out for people who have been on medication for prolonged periods of time.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has asked Dr Keith Ridge, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, to carry out a review into overprescribing of medicines.

The review is due to report in spring 2020. It will align with and build on the emerging Medicine Safety Programme and Public Health England’s independent review into ‘dependence and withdrawal associated with some prescribed medicines’, published in September 2019, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prescribed-medicines-review-report

To support appropriate prescribing, the 2020/21 GP contract will introduce new requirements for primary care networks (PCNs) to undertake Structured Medication Reviews (SMRs), which will help to address overprescribing of medicines. From 1 April 2020, each PCN will use appropriate tools to identify and prioritise patients who would benefit from an SMR.

Q
(North West Durham)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Learning Disability: Diagnosis
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people with intellectual disability are not wrongly diagnosed as having dementia.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 18 February 2020

Diagnosis for dementia is only undertaken by clinical professionals. For example, a general practitioner (GP) in the first instance. If the GP is unsure about the diagnosis, they will refer the individual to a specialist for further tests.

To help promote and maintain best practice for diagnosing dementia, and ensure accurate diagnoses, NHS England has developed and published guidance aimed at GPs and practice nurses, as well as guidance on what good quality assessment and dementia diagnosis looks like. The guidance is available at the following links:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/dementia-revealed-toolkit.pdf

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/implementation-guide-and-resource-pack-dementia-guide.pdf

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Justice
Coroners
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make it his policy to create a national oversight body to ensure recommendations from inquests and Prevention of Future Death reports made by coroners are collated, monitored and implemented; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 18 February 2020

A person (or body) who receives a coroner’s report to prevent future deaths has a statutory duty to give a written response with details of any action that has been taken or proposed, along with a timescale for implementing this; or an explanation as to why no action is proposed.

For deaths in state custody, the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody brings together the relevant government departments, agencies and stakeholders to improve policies and processes for keeping those in custody safe.

There are currently no plans to create a wider national oversight body along the lines suggested for all prevention of future death notifications.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Justice
Coroners
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many Prevention of Future Death reports his Department has received from coroners relating to deaths in prison in the last three years; and what assessment he has made of whether the recommendations from those reports were collated, reviewed and implemented; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 18 February 2020

Since January 2017 85 Prevention of Future Death (PFD) reports have been addressed to my Department by Coroners following inquests held into deaths occurring in prison custody.

We are committed to learning from the findings of inquests into deaths in custody, and I am grateful to Coroners who make PFD reports after them. All such reports addressed to my Department are collected centrally in HMPPS, and careful consideration is given to the matters of concern raised in them.

The Director General for Prisons responds personally to the Coroner in each case, explaining how the concerns raised have been, or will be, addressed, locally in the establishment, and at national level where there is wider learning to be shared or a policy issue has been raised. Any local actions are taken by the Governor and monitored by the Prison Group Director, and wider learning is disseminated nationally by the central prison safety team and incorporated into the relevant guidance and policy at the earliest opportunity.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Saudi Arabia
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to the letter dated 26 January 2018 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen mandated by Security Council resolution 2342 (2017) addressed to the President of the Security Council, what steps she has taken to retake the decision to grant the licences for the transfer of components manufactured by EDO MBM Technology Limited UK as required by the Court of Appeal judgment of 20 June 2019.
A
Answered by: Greg Hands
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The Government continues to carefully consider the implications of the Court of Appeal Judgment for decision making and is progressing the work to enable the re-taking of decisions on the correct legal basis. No specific timetable has been set for this work to be concluded. We disagree with the judgment and have submitted a Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

Q
(South Cambridgeshire)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Planning Permission
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many planning applications have been granted through the Permission in Principle application route to date.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 February 2020

We do not currently collect data on Permission in Principle applications. However, from April 2020 local planning authorities will be required to provide data on Permission in Principle applications which will be published as part of the national planning quarterly statistical release.

Q
Asked by David Duguid
(Banff and Buchan)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband and Mobile Phones: Banff and Buchan
Commons
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress the Department has made on the roll-out of (a) superfast broadband and (b) mobile data connectivity in Banff and Buchan constituency.
A
Answered by: Mr John Whittingdale
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The government has invested heavily in the Rest of Scotland project area, where the Banff and Buchan constituency sits, with £50 million of central government funding allocated. Superfast coverage in the constituency stands at 84.8%, up from 1.1% in 2012

Today, there is 84.8% 4G geographic coverage from all four mobile network operators in the Banff and Buchan constituency, with 99.3% from at least one mobile network operator.

Q
Asked by Craig Tracey
(North Warwickshire)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Construction
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether local authorities are able to use the New Homes Bonus to fund refuse services; and how many local authorities use the New Homes Bonus for revenue spending.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The New Homes Bonus is an unringfenced grant, this allows local authorities to use the funding as they see fit, as the Government recognises that authorities are in the best position to make decisions about local priorities. Authorities are expected to engage with their local community to decide how the money is spent. The Department does not monitor how individual authorities spend their allocations.

Q
Asked by Neil Coyle
(Bermondsey and Old Southwark)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Justice
Sexual Offences: Prosecutions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on ensuring more effective prosecutions of cases involving (a) rape and (b) other sexual offences.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The Secretary of State for Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions meet regularly to discuss a number of joint workstreams in the Criminal Justice System, including rape prosecutions, and most recently met in January. Both the Secretary of State for Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions are committed to working together to ensure rape and other sexual offences are prosecuted more effectively. It is encouraging that the CPS is working with the police to develop new ways of working to improve case progression, digital capability and disclosure, expertise, supporting victims, and stakeholder engagement.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for International Development
Overseas Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the October 2019 report of The Independent Commission for Aid Impact on mutual prosperity, what steps he is taking to ensure that Official Development Assistance spending across all Departments (a) remains focused on (i) poverty alleviation, (ii) developing and least developed countries and (iii) and leaving no one behind and (b) is fully transparent and accountable.
A
Answered by: James Duddridge
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The UK is a global champion for aid spending and humanitarian relief. As the Independent Commission for Aid Impact report highlights, this Government is building mutually beneficial partnerships that go wider than aid, towards the trade and business relationships that can deliver quality investment, drive growth and create the jobs that developing countries need to lift millions out of poverty. The aim is to build self-sustaining economies that can generate their own financing through increased tax revenue and private investment.

This approach to international development is a key example of how the government is bringing together all our capabilities to end extreme poverty. To support this, DFID is working with other government departments to ensure all Official Development Assistance meets the requirements of the International Development Act and the Government’s transparency commitment.

Q
(Chesterfield)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of legal challenges to her Department's policy to remove (a) severe disability premium and (b) enhanced disability premium payments from claimants transferring to universal credit.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The Government remains committed to ensuring everyone receives the support they need, which is why we currently spend a record £55 billion a year to support people with disabilities. Universal Credit is a simpler system than its predecessor. By not replicating the SDP and other premiums, we have been able to target additional support to a wider group of claimants and create a more streamlined system. It is important that the Government can design policy and challenge court decisions, where appropriate, that seek to change that policy.

As at 13 February 2020, the Department has spent £215,846.89 on legal costs defending and appealing the cases in relation to people formerly in receipt of Severe Disability premium that have transferred to Universal Credit. These figures include Government Legal Department litigation fees, counsel’s fees and other disbursements, as well as VAT where payable.

Q
Asked by Steve Reed
(Croydon North)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Flats: Insulation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent progress his Department has made on the release of funds to cover the cost of the remediation of unsafe aluminium composite material cladding on privately owned blocks of flats in London.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 February 2020

Information on the progress of applications to the Private Sector ACM Cladding Remediation Fund is reported in the monthly building safety programme data releases, available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/aluminium-composite-material-cladding#acm-remediation-data.

Q
(Chesterfield)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of NHS preparedness for an outbreak of the coronavirus in the UK.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The United Kingdom is extremely well prepared for these types of outbreaks – we are one of the first countries in the world to develop a test for the new virus. The National Health Service is always ready to provide world class care to patients whether they have a common illness, or an infectious disease never seen here before.

The NHS has expert teams in every ambulance service and a number of specialist hospital units with highly trained staff and equipment ready to receive and care for patients with any highly infectious disease. Since April 2013, NHS England has commissioned a total of 15 adult respiratory extra corporeal membrane oxygenation beds from five providers in England, with further provision in Scotland. In periods of high demand, capacity can be increased.

Q
(Chesterfield)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether additional funding is being allocated to NHS trusts in preparation for a potential outbreak of the coronavirus.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 18 February 2020

We are investing £40 million in vaccine research, are working with international efforts on therapeutics, as well as the immediate launch of a capital facility to support any urgent works the National Health Service needs for the coronavirus response, such as the creation of further isolation areas and other necessary facilities. The United Kingdom is also ramping up efforts to fund ground-breaking research into vaccines, diagnostics and cures to fight against the threat of future viruses.

Q
Asked by John Healey
(Wentworth and Dearne)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Treasury
Beer: Excise Duties
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the economic effect of small breweries relief on small brewers.
A
Answered by: John Glen
Answered on: 18 February 2020

We are conducting a review of Small Brewers Relief, and further announcements about this will be made in due course.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Diabetes: Skin Diseases
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people have a diagnosis of diabetic bullous.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 18 February 2020

This information is not held centrally.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Diabetes: Health Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to raise awareness of diabetes among (a) young people and (b) the general public.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) is a partnership between NHS England and NHS Improvement, Diabetes UK and Public Health England and works closely together to raise awareness of diabetes with patients, public and healthcare professionals.

Diabetes UK provide the ‘patient voice’ for the programme by leading on user involvement activities and ensuring the programme is tailored to service users’ needs.

One output of the NDPP has been an annual Diabetes Prevention Week, which NHS England and NHS Improvement, Diabetes UK and Public Health England run as a joint campaign, undertaking a range of targeted activity to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes, the complications associated with the condition and how to prevent it.

In March 2016, Public Health England (PHE) launched One You, a campaign targeted at men and women aged 40-60 to encourage them to make healthy changes such as increasing physical activity, improving diet, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption, to reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes.

Additionally, PHE’s Change4Life campaign encourages families across England to ‘eat well, move more’. Type 2 diabetes is highlighted in the campaign as a potential health consequence of poor diet and inactivity.

Q
(Thirsk and Malton)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Ministry of Justice
Fraud
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress he has made on bringing forward legislative proposals to introduce a corporate offence of failure to prevent fraud and money laundering.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 18 February 2020

The Government is considering the case for reforming the law on CCL and will publish a response to the Call for Evidence in due course.

Q
(Haltemprice and Howden)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for Education
Apprentices
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to promote apprenticeships in (a) Haltemprice and Howden constituency, (b) Yorkshire and the Humber and (c) the UK.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 18 February 2020

We have introduced a wide range of reforms to apprenticeships to improve their quality and to encourage employers across England to increase the number of apprenticeships they offer.

Since May 2010, there have been 4,392,000 starts in England. Of these, 6,930 apprenticeships starts have been in Haltemprice and Howden and 535,420 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

We are raising the profile of our apprenticeship programme through wider communications and marketing activity. The third phase of the Fire it Up campaign was launched in January, targeting important audience groups that are central to widening participation in apprenticeships.

Our thirteenth annual National Apprenticeship Week took place this month (3 to 9 February). Nearly 900 events were held across the country to celebrate and promote the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities across England today.

In addition, in January 2018, we introduced a legal requirement for schools to give colleges or other organisations providing further education or training, the opportunity to make pupils aware about technical qualifications and apprenticeships.

We also offer a free service to schools through the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge (ASK) project to ensure that teachers have the knowledge and support to enable them to promote apprenticeships to their students. In the last academic year, the ASK Programme reached over 300,000 students.

We are investing £2.5 billion in apprenticeships this year (2019-20) so that employers of all sizes across England can provide apprenticeship opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. We are moving smaller employers onto our award-winning apprenticeship service to give them a greater choice of where their apprentices are trained, and so that they can also benefit from transferred funds from levy payers. Levy transfers can help to support new starts in supply chains and address local skills needs.

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