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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Q
Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Trade Union Bill
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the original date set for the publication of the impact assessment for the Trade Union Bill.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government has published detailed Impact Assessments for the Bill - on the Trade Union Bill, on the Reporting of Facility Time in the Public Sector, and on the Prohibition on Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector. At a meeting with Peers in December, Ministers committed to publishing prior to the Lords Committee stage of the Bill, and they were published in good time on 21 January.

The Trade Union Bill's impact assessment has been subject to scrutiny by the independent Regulatory Policy Committee, and its opinion has been published alongside the impact assessment.

They were reviewed and approved by the relevant Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office. The Permanent Secretary has been kept informed of progress on all stages of the Bill.

Policy officials and analysts in both Departments have worked together to produce the impact assessments as quickly as possible while ensuring that the analysis was thorough.

We have not asked civil servants working on the Bill in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office to fill out time sheets.

We do not record which particular documents each special adviser reads. Special advisers have access to departmental papers in line with the Special Advisers' Code of Conduct and provide advice to Ministers.

I am placing copies of the relevant documentation in the Library.

Q
Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Trade Union Bill
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government for how many officials working on the impact assessment for the Trade Union Bill is it taking up 75 per cent or more of their working time.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government has published detailed Impact Assessments for the Bill - on the Trade Union Bill, on the Reporting of Facility Time in the Public Sector, and on the Prohibition on Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector. At a meeting with Peers in December, Ministers committed to publishing prior to the Lords Committee stage of the Bill, and they were published in good time on 21 January.

The Trade Union Bill's impact assessment has been subject to scrutiny by the independent Regulatory Policy Committee, and its opinion has been published alongside the impact assessment.

They were reviewed and approved by the relevant Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office. The Permanent Secretary has been kept informed of progress on all stages of the Bill.

Policy officials and analysts in both Departments have worked together to produce the impact assessments as quickly as possible while ensuring that the analysis was thorough.

We have not asked civil servants working on the Bill in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office to fill out time sheets.

We do not record which particular documents each special adviser reads. Special advisers have access to departmental papers in line with the Special Advisers' Code of Conduct and provide advice to Ministers.

I am placing copies of the relevant documentation in the Library.

Q
Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Trade Union Bill
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government which ministers have reviewed sections or drafts of the impact assessment for the Trade Union Bill, and when.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government has published detailed Impact Assessments for the Bill - on the Trade Union Bill, on the Reporting of Facility Time in the Public Sector, and on the Prohibition on Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector. At a meeting with Peers in December, Ministers committed to publishing prior to the Lords Committee stage of the Bill, and they were published in good time on 21 January.

The Trade Union Bill's impact assessment has been subject to scrutiny by the independent Regulatory Policy Committee, and its opinion has been published alongside the impact assessment.

They were reviewed and approved by the relevant Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office. The Permanent Secretary has been kept informed of progress on all stages of the Bill.

Policy officials and analysts in both Departments have worked together to produce the impact assessments as quickly as possible while ensuring that the analysis was thorough.

We have not asked civil servants working on the Bill in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office to fill out time sheets.

We do not record which particular documents each special adviser reads. Special advisers have access to departmental papers in line with the Special Advisers' Code of Conduct and provide advice to Ministers.

I am placing copies of the relevant documentation in the Library.

Q
Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Trade Union Bill
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many officials have worked on the impact assessment for the Trade Union Bill (1) in total, and (2) by job title; and how many hours, and over what period, each official has worked on it.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government has published detailed Impact Assessments for the Bill - on the Trade Union Bill, on the Reporting of Facility Time in the Public Sector, and on the Prohibition on Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector. At a meeting with Peers in December, Ministers committed to publishing prior to the Lords Committee stage of the Bill, and they were published in good time on 21 January.

The Trade Union Bill's impact assessment has been subject to scrutiny by the independent Regulatory Policy Committee, and its opinion has been published alongside the impact assessment.

They were reviewed and approved by the relevant Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office. The Permanent Secretary has been kept informed of progress on all stages of the Bill.

Policy officials and analysts in both Departments have worked together to produce the impact assessments as quickly as possible while ensuring that the analysis was thorough.

We have not asked civil servants working on the Bill in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office to fill out time sheets.

We do not record which particular documents each special adviser reads. Special advisers have access to departmental papers in line with the Special Advisers' Code of Conduct and provide advice to Ministers.

I am placing copies of the relevant documentation in the Library.

Q
Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Trade Union Bill
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps have been taken to speed up completion of the impact assessment for the Trade Union Bill.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government has published detailed Impact Assessments for the Bill - on the Trade Union Bill, on the Reporting of Facility Time in the Public Sector, and on the Prohibition on Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector. At a meeting with Peers in December, Ministers committed to publishing prior to the Lords Committee stage of the Bill, and they were published in good time on 21 January.

The Trade Union Bill's impact assessment has been subject to scrutiny by the independent Regulatory Policy Committee, and its opinion has been published alongside the impact assessment.

They were reviewed and approved by the relevant Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office. The Permanent Secretary has been kept informed of progress on all stages of the Bill.

Policy officials and analysts in both Departments have worked together to produce the impact assessments as quickly as possible while ensuring that the analysis was thorough.

We have not asked civil servants working on the Bill in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office to fill out time sheets.

We do not record which particular documents each special adviser reads. Special advisers have access to departmental papers in line with the Special Advisers' Code of Conduct and provide advice to Ministers.

I am placing copies of the relevant documentation in the Library.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 19 January 2016
Department for Education
Pupils
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many pupils have gone missing from school registers in the last 10 years in total, and in each year.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government does not collect data on children who are not registered pupils at a school. Local authorities have a duty under s.436A of the Education Act 1996 to make arrangements to establish the identities of children who are not receiving a suitable education. This would include collecting as much information as necessary to establish the whereabouts of children who are potentially missing education and whether they are receiving suitable education.

Q
Asked by Andy Burnham
(Leigh)
[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: 19 January 2016
Home Office
UK Border Force: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many staff there were in the UK Border Force and its predecessor in (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12, (d) 2012-13, (e) 2013-14, (f) 2014-15 and (g) 2015-16; and what the UK Border Force's planned total staff complement is for 2016-17.
A
Answered by: Mrs Theresa May
Answered on: 04 February 2016
Holding answer received on 22 January 2016

The Border Force workforce is drawn from two precursor organisations: Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Immigration Service. Border Force was established in its current form in March 2012 and since that time the workforce has ranged from approximately 7800 – 8100 in full-time equivalents.

The detailed breakdown requested is as follows (all figures are full-time equivalents):

March 2010 4506 – UKBA

4639 – HMRC (transferred to UKBA 1st April 2010)

March 2011 8269 – UKBA

March 2012 7846 – Border Force

March 2013 8123 – Border Force

March 2014 8044 – Border Force

March 2015 8153 – Border Force

Workforce numbers for FY16/17 have not yet been finalised.

Q
(Sheffield Central)
[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: 19 January 2016
Home Office
Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons Review
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish a response to each of the recommendations made in Stephen Shaw's Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons, Cm 9186, before Report Stage on the Immigration Bill in the House of Lords.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 04 February 2016
Holding answer received on 22 January 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.

Q
(East Yorkshire)
[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 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Easter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what the implications are for the Government's policy of bringing into force provisions of the Easter Act 1928 to fix a date for Easter of recent comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Nick Boles
Answered on: 04 February 2016

I understand that the Archbishop of Canterbury has recently indicated that he is working with other Christian churches to agree on a fixed date for Easter. At present, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon following the spring equinox. The suggestion is that Easter be fixed in the second or third Sunday in April. The Easter Act 1928, which remains on the Statute Book, would set the date for Easter to fall on the Sunday that follows the second Saturday in April (i.e. between 9 and 15 April). The Act has not been brought into force. To so would require an Order in Council, with the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The Act also requires that, before the Order is made, “regard shall be had to any opinion officially expressed by any Church or other Christian Body." If the Christian churches were to agree on moving to a fixed date for Easter then the Government would consider, depending on what date is agreed, whether to bring into force the Easter Act 1928 or to make such other legislative provision as may be needed. However, there is no indication yet whether or when a date will be agreed or what that date would be.

Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Home Office
Overseas Domestic Workers Visa Independent Review
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to respond to the Ewins review of overseas domestic work visas.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government is considering carefully James Ewins’ recommendations and will respond after meeting with Peers, following Committee stage of the Immigration Bill and by Report stage.

Q
Asked by Lord Crisp
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Medicine: Research
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to ensure parity between funding for physical health and mental health research following the 2014 Research Excellence Framework conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is allocated funding from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Science and Research budget to distribute to higher education institutions (HEIs) in England. Most of HEFCE’s funding is allocated as an unhypothecated research block grant to institutions, ensuring university leaders have flexibility to support their own research priorities. While this block grant is calculated using research quality and volume information from the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) at a subject level, it is a matter for individual HEIs to determine how it is ultimately distributed to particular activities/subjects.

In developing the REF, the attribution of different disciplines to particular units of assessment was agreed with the relevant professional bodies. Research relevant to clinical mental health was assessed in a unit including psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. As this unit included a mix of research with higher costs (clinical psychology and psychiatry, and neuroscience) and lower costs (social psychology), the funding was allocated at an intermediate cost rate, reflecting the mix of disciplines.

REF2014 demonstrated significantly improved research quality in all disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. As a result, the funding allocated on the basis of performance to this group increased by 16.5 per cent.

As announced in the Spending Review 2015, the Government is taking forward a review of the REF to ensure that future university research funding is allocated efficiently, offers greater rewards for excellent research and reduces the administrative burden on institutions. This review will be led by Lord Stern, and he is expected to deliver his review to the Government in summer 2016.

Q
Asked by Lord Crisp
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Mental Health: Research
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government why clinical research in mental health is scheduled to receive a tariff 32 per cent lower than for other clinical medicine subjects, including dentistry and nursing, for the same type of research, in the light of the overall increase in funding following the 2014 Research Excellence Framework conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is allocated funding from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Science and Research budget to distribute to higher education institutions (HEIs) in England. Most of HEFCE’s funding is allocated as an unhypothecated research block grant to institutions, ensuring university leaders have flexibility to support their own research priorities. While this block grant is calculated using research quality and volume information from the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) at a subject level, it is a matter for individual HEIs to determine how it is ultimately distributed to particular activities/subjects.

In developing the REF, the attribution of different disciplines to particular units of assessment was agreed with the relevant professional bodies. Research relevant to clinical mental health was assessed in a unit including psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. As this unit included a mix of research with higher costs (clinical psychology and psychiatry, and neuroscience) and lower costs (social psychology), the funding was allocated at an intermediate cost rate, reflecting the mix of disciplines.

REF2014 demonstrated significantly improved research quality in all disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. As a result, the funding allocated on the basis of performance to this group increased by 16.5 per cent.

As announced in the Spending Review 2015, the Government is taking forward a review of the REF to ensure that future university research funding is allocated efficiently, offers greater rewards for excellent research and reduces the administrative burden on institutions. This review will be led by Lord Stern, and he is expected to deliver his review to the Government in summer 2016.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Home Office
Crime
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 29 December 2015 (HL4764), whether they will list the social and environmental influences that they take into account when defining character or the propensity to commit crime.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 04 February 2016

An individual’s character and propensity to offend are influenced by a range of factors, but could include social aspects of a person’s upbringing or their environment.

As the Home Secretary has set out, there is nothing inevitable about criminality, however, and most people do not go on to become criminals whatever circumstances they grow up in. And it is important to remember that the only cause of a crime is, in the end, the criminal. The government’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy will focus on tackling the six key drivers of crime, including character, and will be published in the spring.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 20 January 2016
Ministry of Justice
David Kelly Death Inquiry
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much was paid for the inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly in 2003 to (1) the government legal team and (2) the chairman.
A
Answered by: Lord Faulks
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The report of Lord Hutton’s Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly was published on 28 January 2004. The inquiry website indicates that staff costs for the inquiry secretariat were £145,975 and that the cost of external advice, including lawyers’ fees, was £990,303. No fees are shown as having been paid to Lord Hutton. No further breakdown of costs is available.

Asked on: 21 January 2016
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners: Crimes of Violence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many extra days or weeks imprisonment have been given to prisoners for assaults committed on (1) fellow prisoners, and (2) prison staff, in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Faulks
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The table attached shows the numbers of awards of additional days in prison establishments as a result of adjudications in each year since 2011, for breach of prison discipline involving violence, including the number of adjudications where awards of added days were as a result of an assault against (1) another prisoner or (2) a member of prison staff.

Violence in prison has increased in recent years. The nature of offenders currently in custody and the widespread availability of new psychoactive substances have both contributed to making prisons less safe. There is no single, simple solution to improving safety in prisons but we are making progress.

We are trialling the use of body worn cameras and training sniffer dogs to detect New Psychoactive Substances. We have made it an offence to smuggle New Psychoactive Substances into prison, but ultimately the only way to reduce violence in prisons is to give governors and those who work in prisons the tools necessary to reform and rehabilitate offenders more effectively.

Data for 2015 - 2016 is not yet available.

Extra Days of imprisonment table (Excel SpreadSheet, 9.6 KB)
Asked on: 21 January 2016
Department for Transport
Taxis: Licensing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what safety and background checks are carried out on people renewing taxi driver licences or applying for new taxi driver licences in the UK.
A
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The Government is responsible for setting the regulatory structure within which local licensing authorities in England and Wales license taxi drivers. Regulation of taxi drivers in Scotland and Northern Ireland is devolved to the Scottish Government and Northern Irish Assembly respectively.

Local licensing authorities in England and Wales have a duty to ensure that any person to whom they grant a taxi driver’s licence is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Although the term ‘fit and proper’ is not defined in legislation, the procedure for assessing a driver’s fitness will typically involve a criminal record check, a medical check, a local topographical knowledge test and possibly a special driving test. The inclusion of any or all of these elements and the stringency thereof is a matter for the licensing authority. However, the Department for Transport publishes Best Practice Guidance to assist licensing authorities when setting standards.

Q
Asked on: 21 January 2016
The Lord Chairman of Committees
House of Lords: Flowers
Lords
To ask the Chairman of Committees how much has been spent by the House of Lords on floristry services on the Parliamentary estate for each of the last five years for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Lord Laming
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The cost of flowers for the House of Lords is set out in the table below. These costs relate primarily to flowers in catering and retail outlets, and ceremonial events, such as state visits. The cost of flowers in the House of Commons portion of the Parliamentary estate is a matter for the House of Commons Commission.

Financial year

Amount (£)

2011/12

23,185

2012/13

13,956

2013/14

11,656

2014/15

13,459

2015/16 (to December 2015)

9,276

These figures do not include flowers for banqueting functions and other income generating business as these costs are paid for by the customer or revenue from the event.

Catering and Retail Services keeps its expenditure on flowers under review, to ensure that it is delivering best value to the taxpayer.

Q
Asked on: 21 January 2016
The Lord Chairman of Committees
House of Lords: Flowers
Lords
To ask the Chairman of Committees when the current contract for floristry services is due for renewal.
A
Answered by: Lord Laming
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The floristry services contract is due for re-tender ahead of the expiration of the current contract, in September 2017.

Q
Asked by Baroness Gale
Asked on: 21 January 2016
Ministry of Justice
Prostitution: Wales
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) prosecutions, and (2) convictions, there have been in Wales under section 53A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in each year since 2010, and what penalty was imposed in each case.
A
Answered by: Lord Faulks
Answered on: 04 February 2016

There were no prosecutions brought under section 53A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, in Wales, from 2010 to 2014 (the latest available).

Data on court proceedings for calendar year 2015 is planned for publication in May 2016.

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 21 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
English Language: Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the expenditure on the provision of English courses for speakers of other languages (1) in further education colleges and other public sector bodies, and (2) in other ways, in each of the last 10 years, including the current academic year; which bodies will deliver the extra language tuition to be provided from the £20 million announced by the Prime Minister; and when that extra tuition will commence.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 04 February 2016

The table below shows estimated funding for adult skills budget ESOL provision from 2009/10 onwards. We do not hold data before 2009/10 or collect data by the status of the providers.

BIS funding for ESOL is allocated by the Skills Funding Agency as part of a provider’s adult skills budget. In addition, there are a number of ESOL courses funded through the Agency’s community learning budget, but we do not collect data which enables us to provide a breakdown of the expenditure on these. SFA-funded providers which deliver ESOL include Further Education colleges, local authorities and a few other providers. The Department for Communities and Local Government funds a range of organisations contracted to deliver their current community-based English language projects.

Our new £20 million community-based English language training offer will be informed by the findings of Louise Casey's Review and the learning from the six community projects we have funded as part of our current integration programme. In particular, we will work with Louise Casey to identify the most isolated communities in England to make sure this programme is targeted at those women who need it most and on the detail of how it will be delivered. We are working towards as early a launch date as possible for the programme in 2016-17.

YEAR

BIS ACADEMIC YEAR ESTIMATED FUNDING* (Adult Skills Budget)

DCLG FINANCIAL YEAR FUNDING FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROJECTS

09/10

£203m

10/11

£169m

11/12

£117m

12/13

£128m

£0.12m

13/14

£120m

£2.14m

14/15

£104m

£3.66m

*Funding values are estimated using data from the Individualised Learner Record (ILR). Estimated funding provides an indication of the level of government funding and should not be treated as actual spend.

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