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 2015-16 session below. This is a new service and we welcome your feedback so we can improve it.

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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.
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Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
[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: 14 January 2016
HM Treasury
Welfare Tax Credits
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many applications for mandatory reconsideration of a tax credits decision have been made to Concentrix in each month since April 2014.
A
Answered by: Mr David Gauke
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The number of requests for mandatory reconsideration of a decision about a tax credits award that Concentrix have received since the commencement of their contract with HM Revenue and Customs in November 2014 is as follows:

Month

Number of MRs

November 2014

0

December 2014

2

January 2015

6

February 2015

38

March 2015

29

April 2015

137

May 2015

100

June 2015

45

July 2015

71

August 2015

108

September 2015

1221

October 2015

925

November 2015

871

December 2015

2371

The total is about 1.6% of all decisions Concentrix made in the same period.

As of 15 January 2016, there are 566 mandatory reconsiderations in progress that have been opened and Concentrix are waiting for customers to provide further evidence. Concentrix have 30 further mandatory reconsiderations that are awaiting determination.

The average length of time taken between Concentrix starting to work a mandatory reconsideration and making a decision is 24 days. This includes the time needed for customers to provide any further evidence.

Grouped Questions: 22658 | 22668
Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
[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: 14 January 2016
HM Treasury
Welfare Tax Credits
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many applications for mandatory reconsideration of a tax credits decision are awaiting determination by Concentrix.
A
Answered by: Mr David Gauke
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The number of requests for mandatory reconsideration of a decision about a tax credits award that Concentrix have received since the commencement of their contract with HM Revenue and Customs in November 2014 is as follows:

Month

Number of MRs

November 2014

0

December 2014

2

January 2015

6

February 2015

38

March 2015

29

April 2015

137

May 2015

100

June 2015

45

July 2015

71

August 2015

108

September 2015

1221

October 2015

925

November 2015

871

December 2015

2371

The total is about 1.6% of all decisions Concentrix made in the same period.

As of 15 January 2016, there are 566 mandatory reconsiderations in progress that have been opened and Concentrix are waiting for customers to provide further evidence. Concentrix have 30 further mandatory reconsiderations that are awaiting determination.

The average length of time taken between Concentrix starting to work a mandatory reconsideration and making a decision is 24 days. This includes the time needed for customers to provide any further evidence.

Grouped Questions: 22572 | 22668
Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
[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: 14 January 2016
HM Treasury
Welfare Tax Credits
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the average length of time taken by Concentrix to determine applications for mandatory reconsideration of a tax credits decision.
A
Answered by: Mr David Gauke
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The number of requests for mandatory reconsideration of a decision about a tax credits award that Concentrix have received since the commencement of their contract with HM Revenue and Customs in November 2014 is as follows:

Month

Number of MRs

November 2014

0

December 2014

2

January 2015

6

February 2015

38

March 2015

29

April 2015

137

May 2015

100

June 2015

45

July 2015

71

August 2015

108

September 2015

1221

October 2015

925

November 2015

871

December 2015

2371

The total is about 1.6% of all decisions Concentrix made in the same period.

As of 15 January 2016, there are 566 mandatory reconsiderations in progress that have been opened and Concentrix are waiting for customers to provide further evidence. Concentrix have 30 further mandatory reconsiderations that are awaiting determination.

The average length of time taken between Concentrix starting to work a mandatory reconsideration and making a decision is 24 days. This includes the time needed for customers to provide any further evidence.

Grouped Questions: 22572 | 22658
Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 18 January 2016
Home Office
Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons Review
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government which, if any, of the recommendations of the report on the welfare of immigration detainees by Stephen Shaw have been rejected, and on what grounds.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Government’s position on the Stephen Shaw review was set out in the Written Ministerial Statement laid on 14 January 2016.

The Government accepts the broad thrust of Mr Shaw’s recommendations. In particular the Government accepts Mr Shaw’s recommendations to adopt a wider definition of those at risk, including victims of sexual violence, individuals with mental health issues, pregnant women, those with learning difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder and elderly people, and to recognise the dynamic nature of vulnerabilities. We will introduce a new “adult at risk” concept into decision-making on immigration detention with a clear presumption that people who are at risk should not be detained, building on the existing legal framework.

A more detailed mental health needs assessment in immigration removal centres, using the expertise of the Centre for Mental Health, will be carried out and is expected to report in March 2016. NHS commissioners will use that assessment to consider and revisit current provision to ensure healthcare needs are being met appropriately. The Government will also publish a joint Department of Health, NHS and Home Office mental health action plan in April 2016.

We will also be considering a number of operational recommendations made by Mr Shaw, on a case by case basis, taking account of available resources.

Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Nurses: Training
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the planned replacement of student bursaries by loans, what estimate they have made of the number of additional students who will be accepted into universities for nursing degree courses in 2017–18.
Answered on: 03 February 2016

We expect this reform to enable universities to provide up to 10,000 additional nursing, midwifery and allied health training places over this parliament.

Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for International Development
EU Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the European Parliament's report that 50 per cent of the EU £23 billion aid budget has been delayed or not used, and whether they plan to take steps to terminate the policy of delivering part of the UK overseas aid budget through the EU.
A
Answered by: Baroness Verma
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The report concerned was compiled by an individual Member of the European Parliament and was not an analysis representing the views of the European Parliament as a whole. It was based on a reading of reports by EU offices in non-EU countries, intended to identify potential problems at an early stage, so that things can be put right in time. In the event that it is proven that money has been wasted, we expect the EU and its audit institutions to take swift and decisive action to recoup funds and to carry out a thorough review of all its programmes to provide a clear set of actions to stop this happening again.

Asked on: 19 January 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Nuclear Power
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the nuclear agreement with Iran, they plan to make representations to the government of Israel to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agree to the same level of inspection now accepted by Iran.
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. All state parties should be pushing for universality of the treaty. In that regard, the Government continues to call on all states that are not parties to the NPT, including Israel, to accede to it, and we also continue to call on Israel to agree a full scope Comprehensive Safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Q
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department of Health
Ambulance Services: Performance Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the average time taken in England for the ambulance service to take a patient from their home to the nearest fully-equipped accident and emergency department.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 03 February 2016

NHS England has advised that it does not collect data on the average time taken in England for the ambulance service to take a patient from their home to an accident and emergency department.

The Government is clear the reconfiguration of front line health services is a matter for the local NHS. Services should be tailored to meet the needs of the local population, and proposals for substantial service change must meet the four tests of reconfiguration which are: (i) support from GP commissioners; (ii) strengthened public and patient engagement; (iii) clarity on the clinical evidence base and (iv) support for patient choice.

Locally driven elements of reconfiguration mean delivery will largely be managed by NHS England, who will work closely with commissioners, the Trust Development Authority and Monitor, and only approve the progression of proposals to consultation that have local support. We are aware that NHS England, in their guidance ‘Planning and delivering service changes for patients’, emphasise that NHS service change planners include an analysis of distance and travel times, the impact of these on transport users, as well as the ambulance service. A copy of this guidance is attached.

Grouped Questions: HL5242 | HL5244
Q
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department of Health
Accident and Emergency Departments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of how the reorganisation of accident and emergency departments in England has affected the time taken for a patient with a serious emergency to be taken from their home to the nearest fully-equipped accident and emergency unit.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 03 February 2016

NHS England has advised that it does not collect data on the average time taken in England for the ambulance service to take a patient from their home to an accident and emergency department.

The Government is clear the reconfiguration of front line health services is a matter for the local NHS. Services should be tailored to meet the needs of the local population, and proposals for substantial service change must meet the four tests of reconfiguration which are: (i) support from GP commissioners; (ii) strengthened public and patient engagement; (iii) clarity on the clinical evidence base and (iv) support for patient choice.

Locally driven elements of reconfiguration mean delivery will largely be managed by NHS England, who will work closely with commissioners, the Trust Development Authority and Monitor, and only approve the progression of proposals to consultation that have local support. We are aware that NHS England, in their guidance ‘Planning and delivering service changes for patients’, emphasise that NHS service change planners include an analysis of distance and travel times, the impact of these on transport users, as well as the ambulance service. A copy of this guidance is attached.

Grouped Questions: HL5241 | HL5244
Q
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department of Health
Hospitals
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what strategic oversight is provided to acute hospital trusts in determining the location of specialties in hospitals within that trust.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 03 February 2016

NHS England has advised that it does not collect data on the average time taken in England for the ambulance service to take a patient from their home to an accident and emergency department.

The Government is clear the reconfiguration of front line health services is a matter for the local NHS. Services should be tailored to meet the needs of the local population, and proposals for substantial service change must meet the four tests of reconfiguration which are: (i) support from GP commissioners; (ii) strengthened public and patient engagement; (iii) clarity on the clinical evidence base and (iv) support for patient choice.

Locally driven elements of reconfiguration mean delivery will largely be managed by NHS England, who will work closely with commissioners, the Trust Development Authority and Monitor, and only approve the progression of proposals to consultation that have local support. We are aware that NHS England, in their guidance ‘Planning and delivering service changes for patients’, emphasise that NHS service change planners include an analysis of distance and travel times, the impact of these on transport users, as well as the ambulance service. A copy of this guidance is attached.

Grouped Questions: HL5241 | HL5242
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department of Health
HIV Infection
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what commitment they have made to supporting HIV support services to enable people with HIV to cope with their new diagnosis and prevent onward transmission.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Care Act 2014 sets out the legal framework for social care in England, and this applies to all adults with support needs including those whose living with HIV. Our Framework for Sexual Health Improvement (2013) a copy of which is attached, highlights the importance of early testing and diagnosis of HIV so that people can receive effective HIV treatment and help prevent new transmissions. In 2014 Public Health England published Making it work, a copy of which attached, setting out guidance to support collaborative local commissioning across all sexual health services.

Framework for Sexual Health Improvement (PDF Document, 321.31 KB)
Making it Work (PDF Document, 5.26 MB)
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department of Health
Contraceptives
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 8 December 2015 (HL3838), how they define reasonable access to all methods of contraception in the context of open access sexual health services; what steps they have taken to ensure that local authorities are commissioning open-access sexual health services as mandated by legislation; and whether reasonable access to all methods of contraception includes access to long-acting reversible contraception as recommended by NICE guideline CG30.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Department issued guidance to local authorities in March 2013 Commissioning Sexual Health services and interventions (a copy of which is attached) to help local authorities (LAs) to fulfil their legal requirements in relation to open access sexual health services. The guidance sets out that in relation to contraception “reasonable access” is for local determination, but also highlights “there is evidence that it may ultimately be better for patient outcomes, and more cost effective, to offer unrestricted access to all methods for all age groups. This supports women controlling their fertility and ensures contraceptive needs are met using the most effective methods”. The guidance also highlights key findings from the National Institute Clinical Excellence on long-acting reversible contraception.

Departmental officials meet regularly with sexual health organisations to consider the commissioning of sexual health services by LAs. Public Health England is undertaking a survey of local commissioning arrangements for sexual health and developing a tool that will improve monitoring of contraception use at LA level.

Commissioning Sexual Health services (PDF Document, 133.87 KB)
Q
Asked by Patrick Grady
(Glasgow North)
[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: 21 January 2016
Department for Work and Pensions
Work Capability Assessment: Self-harm
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons different criteria apply in the assessment of risk of self-harm or suicide to men and women in his Department's guidance on work capability assessments.
A
Answered by: Priti Patel
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The guidance on work capability assessments no longer makes a distinction between men and women.

Q
(Ogmore)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
Attorney General
Lloyds Bank
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2016 to Question 22432, by what measure the Director of the Serious Fraud Office judges whether there is a significant public interest element in a case.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Criminal Justice Act 1987 provides that “The Director may investigate any suspected offence which appears to him on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud.”

Each case is assessed on its own facts and merits.

The Statement of Principle sets out some of the factors that the Director will take into account when considering the matter for investigation. All of these will be considered, and there is no minimum requirement or measure in respect of the different factors.

Each on its own or taken in combination can establish sufficient grounds for the Director to decide that the case is sufficiently large, complex or of wide public interest that it should be dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office.

Grouped Questions: 24102 | 24099 | 24189 | 24190
Q
(Ogmore)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
Attorney General
Lloyds Bank
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2016 to Question 22432, what measure the Director of the Serious Fraud Office uses to judge actual or potential economic harm.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Criminal Justice Act 1987 provides that “The Director may investigate any suspected offence which appears to him on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud.”

Each case is assessed on its own facts and merits.

The Statement of Principle sets out some of the factors that the Director will take into account when considering the matter for investigation. All of these will be considered, and there is no minimum requirement or measure in respect of the different factors.

Each on its own or taken in combination can establish sufficient grounds for the Director to decide that the case is sufficiently large, complex or of wide public interest that it should be dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office.

Grouped Questions: 24101 | 24099 | 24189 | 24190
Q
(Ogmore)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
Attorney General
Lloyds Bank
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2016 to Question 22432, how the Director of the Serious Fraud Office measures the undermining of UK PLC commercial or financial interests in the (a) City of London and (b) UK.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Criminal Justice Act 1987 provides that “The Director may investigate any suspected offence which appears to him on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud.”

Each case is assessed on its own facts and merits.

The Statement of Principle sets out some of the factors that the Director will take into account when considering the matter for investigation. All of these will be considered, and there is no minimum requirement or measure in respect of the different factors.

Each on its own or taken in combination can establish sufficient grounds for the Director to decide that the case is sufficiently large, complex or of wide public interest that it should be dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office.

Grouped Questions: 24101 | 24102 | 24189 | 24190
Q
(Ogmore)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
Attorney General
Lloyds Bank
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2016 to Question 22432, what the figure is for high actual or potential loss listed in the Statement of Principle.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Criminal Justice Act 1987 provides that “The Director may investigate any suspected offence which appears to him on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud.”

Each case is assessed on its own facts and merits.

The Statement of Principle sets out some of the factors that the Director will take into account when considering the matter for investigation. All of these will be considered, and there is no minimum requirement or measure in respect of the different factors.

Each on its own or taken in combination can establish sufficient grounds for the Director to decide that the case is sufficiently large, complex or of wide public interest that it should be dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office.

Grouped Questions: 24101 | 24102 | 24099 | 24190
Q
(Ogmore)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
Attorney General
Lloyds Bank
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2016 to Question 22432, whether a case considered by the Serious Fraud Office must meet all Statement of Principle considerations.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 03 February 2016

The Criminal Justice Act 1987 provides that “The Director may investigate any suspected offence which appears to him on reasonable grounds to involve serious or complex fraud.”

Each case is assessed on its own facts and merits.

The Statement of Principle sets out some of the factors that the Director will take into account when considering the matter for investigation. All of these will be considered, and there is no minimum requirement or measure in respect of the different factors.

Each on its own or taken in combination can establish sufficient grounds for the Director to decide that the case is sufficiently large, complex or of wide public interest that it should be dealt with by the Serious Fraud Office.

Grouped Questions: 24101 | 24102 | 24099 | 24189
Q
Asked by Bill Wiggin
(North Herefordshire)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
HM Treasury
Revenue and Customs: Secondment
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, to which (a) government departments, (b) agencies, (c) commercial companies and (d) charities HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Fast Stream civil servants are (i) attached or (ii) seconded; what the average length of time is for such (A) attachments and (B) secondments; and what assessment HMRC makes of the benefits of those attachments and secondments to its own work and to the tax payer.
A
Answered by: Mr David Gauke
Answered on: 03 February 2016

Civil Service Resourcing coordinates the Fast Stream for the Civil Service and manages all Fast Streamers on the central corporate schemes.

A list of Government departments, Agencies, Arms Length Bodies, NDPB’s, Commercial (private) organisations and charities to which Fast streamers are currently posted to as at January 2016 can be found at Annex A.

  • Fast stream postings in the Civil Service are either 6 or 12 months depending on the timing of the posting

  • The average length of time for a secondment to an external organisation is 6 months.

    Civil Service Resourcing assesses the value of these postings and placements to the Civil Service (including HMRC) in the following ways:

  • Individual performance management through postings; mid and end of scheme assessments to track developments against the Fast Stream aims (core skills, competency framework and leadership potential)

  • Posting and secondment evaluation to ensure the effectiveness of each posting in supporting Fast Streamers’ development.

  • Overall assessment via Fast Stream Annual survey to measure ongoing effectiveness of the Fast Stream

Q
Asked by Gareth Thomas
(Harrow West)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
HM Treasury
Health Insurance: Taxation
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the revenue that will accrue to the Exchequer from the insurance premium tax on health cash plans; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mr David Gauke
Answered on: 03 February 2016

In 2014-15, total Insurance Premium Tax receipts were approximately £3bn. HM Revenue and Customs estimates that £10.9 million in revenue was received from Insurance Premium Tax on health cash plans in 2014-15.

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