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. 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
(Southend West)
Asked on: 01 December 2015
Department for Education
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 27 October 2015 to Question 13645, what process was followed in the appointment of each headteacher to assist her Department on improving the provision of PSHE in schools; where each post was advertised; how many people applied for each such post; how many headteachers were short-listed for interview for those posts; whether consideration was given to each candidate's (a) political views and (b) views on (i) PSHE, (ii) contraception and (iii) abortion in the appointment process; how each candidate was appraised in that process; what criteria were adopted by each candidate; how many candidates for each such post were rejected; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Edward Timpson
Answered on: 23 February 2016

We selected these headteachers to work with us on this issue because of the high quality of provision of PSHE education in their schools. The group of headteachers and practitioners that we are currently working with includes Carl Ward of Haywood Academy in Stoke on Trent; Cathie Paine of the Reach2 Academy Trust; Jerry Rayner of Rugby Independent School in Warwickshire; Michelle Colledge-Smith of the Outwood Grange Academy Trust; and Vanessa Ogden of Mulberry School in Bethnal Green.

The group has not been asked to advise the Government on the content of PSHE. Their focus is to produce an action plan and recommendations for improving the quality of PSHE teaching. We want to draw on expertise from a range of headteachers and practitioners and will invite others to join the group as appropriate. The Department regularly speaks to a wide range of stakeholders and will continue to do so regarding PSHE.

Grouped Questions: 18400 | 18471
Q
(Southend West)
Asked on: 01 December 2015
Department for Education
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 27 October 2015 to Question 13645, what the names of each (a) head teacher and (b) school her Department is currently working with to improve the provision of PSHE in schools; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Edward Timpson
Answered on: 23 February 2016

We selected these headteachers to work with us on this issue because of the high quality of provision of PSHE education in their schools. The group of headteachers and practitioners that we are currently working with includes Carl Ward of Haywood Academy in Stoke on Trent; Cathie Paine of the Reach2 Academy Trust; Jerry Rayner of Rugby Independent School in Warwickshire; Michelle Colledge-Smith of the Outwood Grange Academy Trust; and Vanessa Ogden of Mulberry School in Bethnal Green.

The group has not been asked to advise the Government on the content of PSHE. Their focus is to produce an action plan and recommendations for improving the quality of PSHE teaching. We want to draw on expertise from a range of headteachers and practitioners and will invite others to join the group as appropriate. The Department regularly speaks to a wide range of stakeholders and will continue to do so regarding PSHE.

Grouped Questions: 18401 | 18471
Q
(Southend West)
Asked on: 02 December 2015
Department for Education
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 27 October 2015 to Question 13645, how and by whom each (a) headteacher and (b) school was recommended; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Edward Timpson
Answered on: 23 February 2016

We selected these headteachers to work with us on this issue because of the high quality of provision of PSHE education in their schools. The group of headteachers and practitioners that we are currently working with includes Carl Ward of Haywood Academy in Stoke on Trent; Cathie Paine of the Reach2 Academy Trust; Jerry Rayner of Rugby Independent School in Warwickshire; Michelle Colledge-Smith of the Outwood Grange Academy Trust; and Vanessa Ogden of Mulberry School in Bethnal Green.

The group has not been asked to advise the Government on the content of PSHE. Their focus is to produce an action plan and recommendations for improving the quality of PSHE teaching. We want to draw on expertise from a range of headteachers and practitioners and will invite others to join the group as appropriate. The Department regularly speaks to a wide range of stakeholders and will continue to do so regarding PSHE.

Grouped Questions: 18401 | 18400
Q
(Hammersmith)
[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: 17 December 2015
Ministry of Justice
Magistrates' Courts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many magistrates' courts opened in each local justice area in each year since 2010.
A
Answered by: Mr Shailesh Vara
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The tables below show magistrates’ courts that have opened since 2010. Each of these new courts replaced multiple smaller facilities, providing modern and efficient premises in place of buildings which were unfit for purpose.

2011

Westminster Magistrates Court

2012

Aberystwyth Justice Centre

Chelmsford Magistrates Court

Colchester Magistrates Court

Newport Magistrates Court

It is not possible to present the above sites by their local justice areas as many local justice area boundaries change over time.

Q
Asked by Diana Johnson
(Kingston upon Hull 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: 06 January 2016
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice: Information Officers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many press and public relations staff are employed by (a) his Department, (b) HM Courts and Tribunal Service, (c) HM Prison Service, (d) the Legal Aid Agency and (e) the National Offender Management Service; how many of those employees are paid more than (i) £50,000 and (ii) £100,000; and what the total expenditure was on press and public relations by each of those organisations in the most recent year for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Mike Penning
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The Ministry of Justice including the National Offender Management Service employs a total of 42 staff within the external communications division. Of those, eight are paid more than £50,000. The total spend on external communications during 2014/15 was £1,914,806.

The total number of staff is less than that in 2009/2010 even though the function has additional responsibilities such as strategic communications, campaigns, stakeholder communications and a wider spread of digital communications activities.

The Legal Aid Agency shares services with the Ministry of Justice, and consequently has no separate spend on press and public relations. HM Courts and Tribunals Service operate a separate press office function employing a total of 3 staff, one of which is paid more than £50,000. The total HMCTS spend 2014/15 was £161,331.

Spend on external communications continues to fall and we will look for further savings where possible. As one of the biggest departments responsible for prisons, courts and other issues of national importance such as human rights we have a duty to explain our work to the public.

Q
(Hammersmith)
[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: 06 January 2016
Ministry of Justice
Prisoner Escapes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people have been charged with trying to escape from a prison van in each of the last five years; and how many such people have avoided recapture.
A
Answered by: Andrew Selous
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) does not hold data about the number of people charged with trying to escape from vehicles operated by NOMS or by contractors.

NOMS has implemented a range of measures in recent years to improve the security surrounding prisoners on escort. Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, 23 prisoners escaped from vehicles operated by NOMS or by contractors. All were re-captured.

Overall, the number of escapes from prison escorts almost halved from 102 between 2005-06 and 2009-10, to 59 between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

The table below gives the numbers and details of the escapes for each of these years.

Escapes from escorts while entering or leaving vehicles1 or en route to or from venue

Response

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

ENTERING VEHICLE

0

0

0

2

2

LEAVING VEHICLE

0

1

1

1

0

VEHICLE EN ROUTE FROM VENUE

0

2

0

1

0

VEHICLE EN ROUTE TO VENUE

1

6

1

3

2

TOTAL

1

9

2

7

4

(1) Vehicles primarily refer to prison vans used for escorting prisoner but do include other vehicle types

The table below provides information about escapes which have taken place from prison escort and private escort contractors from 2005/06 to 2014/15. The table includes escapes from courts but not those escapes of less than 15 minutes’ duration and covers the full duration of the escort process.

KPI Escapes1 from Prison Escort2 and from Private Escort Contractors (PECS)3 from 2005/06 to 2014/15

2005 /06

2006 /07

2007 /08

2008 /09

2009 /10

2010 /11

2011 /12

2012 /13

2013 /14

2014 /15

KPI Prison Escorts Escapes

8

6

2

4

3

1

2

0

2

1

KPI Contracted Out Escort (PECS) Escapes

17

19

16

15

12

10

13

9

9

12

KPI Category A Escapes during Escort

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

1) The definition of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Escape if (i) the prisoner is at liberty for 15 minutes or more before recapture or (ii) a prisoner escapes and is charged with another criminal offence.

2) Escaping the control of escorting prison service staff.

3) Escapes from the secure vehicles or supervision of contracted prison escorts. This includes escapes from court where contracted prison escort staff have been notified.

Q
Asked by Diana Johnson
(Kingston upon Hull 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: 07 January 2016
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice: Information Officers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many press and public relations staff are employed by (a) his Department, (b) HM Courts and Tribunal Service, (c) HM Prison Service, (d) the Legal Aid Agency and (e) the National Offender Management Service; how many of those employees are paid more than (i) £50,000 and (ii) £100,000; and what the total expenditure was on press and public relations by each of those organisations in the most recent year for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Mike Penning
Answered on: 23 February 2016

I refer the honourable member to the answer which I gave in PQ 21339, answered on 23rd February 2016.

Q
Asked by Helen Hayes
(Dulwich and West Norwood)
[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 Education
Vocational Guidance: Greater London
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what representations she has received from business organisations on the quality of careers information advice and guidance in (a) Lambeth and (b) Southwark; and how she has responded to those representations.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 23 February 2016
Holding answer received on 25 January 2016

We have engaged with many employers and their representative bodies, including the Confederation of British Industry and the British Chambers of Commerce, on the subject of careers education and guidance for young people. We are not aware of any specific representations on the quality of careers provision in Lambeth and Southwark.

We want to spread excellent practice in careers education and employer engagement across the country so that every young person, regardless of background, can access the inspiration and guidance they need to prepare for working life. ‘London Ambitions’ is a great example of a collaborative approach which will transform the landscape of careers and employment support for young people in Lambeth, Southwark and other London boroughs. Commissioned through the London Enterprise Panel and London Councils, the report’s recommendations include at least 100 hours of experience of the world of work by the age of 16, comprehensive, up-to-date information on the jobs market in the capital and a ‘London Ambitions Careers Curriculum’ to help young people link their learning experiences to future success in the workplace.

At a national level we have established The Careers & Enterprise Company which is connecting employees from firms of all sizes to schools through a network of enterprise advisers drawn from business volunteers. Working with key stakeholders, including employer representatives, we are developing a comprehensive strategy to outline this government’s plans for improving careers provision by 2020. This will be published in the spring of 2016.

Q
Asked by Maria Eagle
(Garston and Halewood)
Asked on: 26 January 2016
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
World War I: Anniversaries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help members of the public to attend First World War centenary events held in 2016 in (a) Orkney, (b) Manchester and (c) Thiepval.
A
Answered by: David Evennett
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The commemorative events in Orkney, Manchester and Thiepval are focal points for the nation to remember those who fought and died at the Battles of Jutland and the Somme. Ensuring that the public can be part of each one is at the heart of our plans, whether that's the thousands of people who will be able to attend or the very many more who will follow events through live broadcasts or media coverage.

A public ballot for Thiepval tickets was launched on 1 July 2015, with people able to register their interest. This attracted significant media attention at a national and regional level. We have also reached out to Jutland descendants to be part of events in Orkney and had a great response. In due course we will let the public know how to take part in UK events marking the Somme, including those to be held in Manchester.

We have been clear that transport and accommodation is the responsibility of attendees - however, we are working closely with tour operators and other travel companies to ensure there are a wide range of options. For example, Eurostar has agreed to provide a dedicated train to a non-Eurostar stop for on-the-day travel to the Thiepval event. In addition, there are regular rail and coach services between the UK and France and a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Those with tickets can get up to date information and ask questions via our dedicated somme2016.org website.

Q
(Houghton and Sunderland South)
[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: 28 January 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Living Wage: Publicity
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what costs have been incurred by his Department for the current advertising campaign on the national living wage.
A
Answered by: Nick Boles
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The total budget allocated for the National Living Wage advertising campaign is £4.95 million. The campaign will run until the end of April and we expect to come in under budget.

The Government’s new National Living Wage is a step up for working people, so it is important workers know their rights and that employers pay the new £7.20 from April 1 this year. Britain deserves a pay rise and as a One Nation Government we are making sure it gets one. The campaign will tell people about their entitlements and is targeted at employers, and workers currently earning the National Minimum Wage.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Belfast Agreement
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what process exists for UK citizens to question the working of the Belfast Agreement 1998.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The public has the right to raise issues by contacting the Government or their local representative.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Belfast Agreement
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will place in the Library of the House the minutes of all meetings and discussion that have taken place with the government of the Republic of Ireland under the auspices of the Belfast Agreement 1998.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The UK and Irish Governments meet regularly both at ministerial and official level to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern including matters relating to the implementation of the Belfast Agreement in each jurisdiction. There are no plans to place the minutes of meetings in the Library of the House.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Belfast Agreement
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of the Belfast Agreement 1998 on the UK and Irish legal systems.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The Belfast Agreement paved the way for power-sharing in Northern Ireland and set out a plan for devolved government in Northern Ireland on a stable and inclusive basis.

The Agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on 10 April 1998:

  1. a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties;
  2. an international agreement between the British and Irish governments (the British-Irish Agreement).

The Agreement set out a series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:

  • The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. (Strand 1)
  • The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Strand 2)
  • The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. (Strand 3)

Key provisions of the Belfast Agreement 1998 were brought into effect by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Grouped Questions: HL5590 | HL5591
Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Belfast Agreement
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Belfast Agreement 1998 applies to all residents of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The Belfast Agreement paved the way for power-sharing in Northern Ireland and set out a plan for devolved government in Northern Ireland on a stable and inclusive basis.

The Agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on 10 April 1998:

  1. a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties;
  2. an international agreement between the British and Irish governments (the British-Irish Agreement).

The Agreement set out a series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:

  • The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. (Strand 1)
  • The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Strand 2)
  • The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. (Strand 3)

Key provisions of the Belfast Agreement 1998 were brought into effect by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Grouped Questions: HL5589 | HL5591
Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Belfast Agreement
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Belfast Agreement 1998 applies to members of the British security forces.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The Belfast Agreement paved the way for power-sharing in Northern Ireland and set out a plan for devolved government in Northern Ireland on a stable and inclusive basis.

The Agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on 10 April 1998:

  1. a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties;
  2. an international agreement between the British and Irish governments (the British-Irish Agreement).

The Agreement set out a series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:

  • The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. (Strand 1)
  • The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Strand 2)
  • The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. (Strand 3)

Key provisions of the Belfast Agreement 1998 were brought into effect by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Grouped Questions: HL5589 | HL5590
Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Belfast Agreement
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their policy of transparency applies to the Belfast Agreement 1998, and if not, why not.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

This Government is committed to transparency across a range of areas, including in respect of its role in the implementation of successive political Agreements in Northern Ireland.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 29 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
British Irish Intergovernmental Conference
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will place the minutes of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference since 1998 in the Library of the House.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference met on one occasion during 2007, 26 February in Dundalk. This was the last time that the body met.

Details of Ministerial attendees and the topics discussed were published in a Joint Communiqué between the two Governments. A copy of this has been placed in the Library (along with copies of all other Joint Communiques published since 1998).

Although a range of issues were discussed, no formal actions were listed. The focus however at the time was the drive towards devolution and the Conference urged all political leaders to act with courage and determination in order to attain this. Assembly elections subsequently took place in May 2007.

Grouped Questions: HL6044
Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 29 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether membership of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe requires them to regard all citizens in the UK to be equal and thus requiring equal treatment by law.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

In the UK, The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has many commitments that recall that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 29 January 2016
Northern Ireland Office
Equality: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Dunlop on 27 November 2015 (HL3723), what difference, if any, there is between people in Northern Ireland and people of Northern Ireland in the application of their policies.
A
Answered by: Lord Dunlop
Answered on: 23 February 2016

In this context there is no difference between people ‘in’ Northern Ireland and people ‘of’ Northern Ireland.

Q
Asked by Grant Shapps
(Welwyn Hatfield)
[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: 29 January 2016
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Social Rented Housing: Broadband
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, how many residences classified as social housing (a) do not have access to superfast broadband, (b) have connections slower than 10 Mbit/s and (c) have connections slower than 2Mbit/s; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mr Edward Vaizey
Answered on: 23 February 2016

The Government is on target to deliver access to superfast broadband for 95% of all UK premises - including social housing - by December 2017, and to extend coverage beyond that as far as possible. We do not hold a breakdown of this information by housing tenure centrally, however this investment is benefiting all types of housing, as well as businesses, and we are proud to be delivering on this critical piece of infrastructure as set out in our manifesto.

Currently, superfast broadband is available to almost 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK - up from 45 per cent in 2010. Around 5 per cent of UK homes and business are currently experiencing connection speeds below 10 Mbit/s.

Having reduced the proportion of all UK premises with speeds less than 2 Mbit/s substantially from 11% in 2010 to around 1% in December last year, we have now implemented our commitment of having at least 2 Mbit/s per second basic broadband available to all homes and businesses.

All premises which are not currently scheduled to get an increase in speed to at least this level are eligible for a subsidised satellite broadband service that can deliver speeds of 10Mbps or more.

The Prime Minister has also announced the Government's intention to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) which is set at 10 Mbit/s. This new broadband USO will give people the legal right to request an affordable broadband connection, at a reasonable cost threshold, no matter where they live. We will be consulting on these proposals shortly.

Grouped Questions: 24932
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