A quick summary of the written questions that I have submitted to the Government this month. Topics range from recycling to pot holes and higher education.
1 - Question asked on 07/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the recycling rates in Nottinghamshire in each year since 2015.
Answer - Defra has calculated the Nottinghamshire District and Borough Councils' yearly percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting since 2015. They are as follows:
2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Ashfield District Council 32.5% 31.8% 41.0% 40.8%
Bassetlaw Council 19.2% 20.1% 21.1% 24.8%
Broxtowe Borough Council 39.0% 38.5% 39.9% 38.5%
Gedling Borough Council 36.2% 35.6% 36.7% 35.2%
Mansfield District Council 35.8% 34.5% 34.6% 32.6%
Newark and Sherwood Council 27.0% 30.3% 31.9% 31.9%
Rushcliffe Borough Council 49.0% 49.0% 50.4% 50.2%
Nottinghamshire County Council 42.8% 42.5% 44.2% 43.7%
2 - Question asked on 07/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the current shortfall in the number of occupational health professionals.
Answer - We have not made an assessment which would specifically address this question. However, we know that the number of specialist occupational health physicians has steadily declined over the past two decades.
A report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health highlighted the need to address occupational medicine workforce capacity. A 2016 report from the Council for Work and Health also highlighted similar findings.
The Government is working with its Occupational Health Expert Group to shape measures to improve access to high quality occupational health. This includes looking at the occupational health workforce to ensure sufficient expert capacity is available in the future. Health Education England, through its National School of Occupational Health, has also been involved in this work.We will set out our proposals in a consultation exercise in 2019.
We have also commissioned research to better understand the current market supply and delivery structures of OH provision and its operation. Findings are due to be published in 2019.
3 - Question asked on 07/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the NHS rollout of lung cancer scanning programmes, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of smoking cessation methods.
Answer - The evidence is clear that expert face-to-face support from a local stop smoking service, combined with stop smoking aids, is the most effective quitting method. People who get this support are up to four times as likely to stop smoking successfully as those who try to quit unaided. This evidence can be viewed at the following link:http://www.ncsct.co.uk/publication_Stop_smoking_services_impact_on_quitting.php
Local authorities in England are responsible for commissioning stop smoking services that meet the identified need in their areas and are targeted at the people who need it most.
NHS England published the Standard Protocol for the Targeted Lung Health Check programme which says participants will be asked about their smoking habits when they attend a lung health check, and offered smoking cessation advice and treatment. This programme can be viewed at the following link:https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/targeted-screening-for-lung-cancer/
4 - Question asked on 11/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding has been allocated to (a) Mansfield and (b) Nottinghamshire from the Pothole Action Fund in each year since that fund's inception.
Answer - Nottinghamshire County Council, as local highway authority, is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the local road network, including for the Mansfield constituency.
The funding allocated to Nottinghamshire County Council by the Department for Transport from the Pothole Action Fund, since its inception, is shown in the table below.
Year Pothole action fund £M
5 - Question asked on 11/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to tackle the decline in hedgehog numbers in the East Midlands.
Answer - The Government has published advice on how to help hedgehogs through the creation of hedgehog havens and making gardens as welcoming as possible. This can be accessed at: www.gov.uk/government/news/five-simple-steps-to-transform-gardens-in-to-hedgehog-havens
We support the excellent work being undertaken by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, such as the Hedgehog Street campaign and their Conservation Strategy for Hedgehogs which sets out a ten year approach to supporting this species. Natural England is taking action to address some of the objectives in this strategy.
As set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, we are committed to creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat to provide benefits for species such as the hedgehog. Agri-environment schemes such as Countryside Stewardship provide funding to restore, extend and link important habitats and boost food resources for a range of species including hedgehogs.
These actions are at a national level. We do not hold information on how they are being taken forward in the East Midlands specifically.
6 - Question asked on 11/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government’s commitment not to impose a cap on the number of students that can access post-18 education applies to all forms of post-18 education.
Answer - We have no intention to re-introduce a cap on the number of students accessing post-18 education. We want our education system to provide opportunities for everybody to improve their position in life. That is why we abolished the pre-existing cap on higher education student numbers and reduced barriers to entry. Record numbers of disadvantaged students are now going to university.
7 - Question asked on 11/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to consult with organisations from the higher education, further education and school sectors on the forthcoming recommendations of the post-18 education and funding review.
Answer - The independent panel has undertaken an extensive programme of engagement with stakeholders and experts as part of the post-18 education and funding review – including a call for evidence that received over 400 responses. The government will continue to engage with stakeholders, including organisations from the higher education, further education and school sectors, to ensure it delivers a post-18 education system that is joined up and supported by a funding system that works for students and taxpayers.
8 - Question asked on 11/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of current access rights to water on paddlesport participation in England.
Answer - The Government’s sport strategy, Sporting Future, encourages and promotes outdoor recreation. Use of our waterways by all can be a creative and fun way to engage with the natural world and to stay healthy.
Sport England is actively engaged with British Canoeing and the Canal and River Trust to get more people from all backgrounds active. In addition Sport England is providing £6.85m to British Canoeing for the period between 2017 to 2021.
The ‘public rights of navigation’ issue around access to waterways is dealt with by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and they are currently working with British Canoeing to consider solutions to access disputes.
9 - Question asked on 18/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to encourage the uptake of occupational health schemes among employers.
Answer - The Government wants to see employers of all sizes create healthy workplaces where people can thrive. We will consult this year on measures to encourage and support all employers to play their part and to improve access to occupational health.
Advice from an Occupational Health Expert Group is helping shape proposals. We have also commissioned research to better understand the current market supply and delivery structures of OH provision and its operation. Findings are due to be published in 2019.
Tax incentives are currently available to employers to encourage investment in employee health and wellbeing, including relief for employer-funded medical treatment up to £500 where there has been a recommendation from an occupational health professional and the employee has been absent for 28 days
10 - Question asked on 18/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the number of degree apprenticeships available in Nottinghamshire.
Answer - There are now 78 industry-designed apprenticeship standards available at level 6 and level 7, of which 60 are degree apprenticeships.
There were 10,880 starts on level 6+ apprenticeships, including degree apprenticeships, in 2017/18, a six-fold increase on the previous academic year.
We are supporting the development and take up of level 6+ and degree apprenticeships across England through the Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund (DADF). The fund has supported 103 education providers, 56 further education colleges and 47 higher education institutions, to boost capacity and internal infrastructure within higher education, including Nottingham Trent University.
The fund has supported a range of awareness raising activities aimed at higher, level 6+ and degree apprenticeship, including supporting 30 co-branded Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and National Apprenticeship service (NAS) careers fairs, offering access to 240,000 year 12 students.
DADF funding has also supported the NAS and UCAS to develop a higher and degree apprenticeships ‘vacancy finder’ consolidating many of these opportunities into one place. Approximately 2,000 vacancies, with 2019 starts, were published in November 2018.
We have also recently launched our ‘Opportunities through Apprenticeships’ campaign, working with partners in Portsmouth, Nottingham, South Tyneside and Torbay to increase participation in apprenticeships particularly at higher levels.
11 - Question asked on 18/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps the Government has taken to support tech start-ups in the Midlands.
Answer - In the Autumn Budget 2017 we announced investment of £21 million to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network – Tech Nation – aimed at accelerating the growth of the digital tech sector across the country. The funding will help Tech Nation support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups as they scale their businesses across the UK. This includes Birmingham, with Tech Nation highlighting that digital tech turnover for the Midlands came in at £7.7billion in 2017.
DCMS investments in the wider business environment are creating and developing the conditions for digital businesses in the Midlands to start and grow. In September 2018, the Government announced the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) as the lead partner of the Urban Connected Communities (UCC) Project. This initiative will see the development of a large-scale 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in cities such as Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
The UCC project will design wireless infrastructure to deliver high quality connectivity and allow new 5G applications to be trialled in a number of sectors; allow industry to test different deployment models for 5G infrastructure and help inform the development of policy and regulation to support 5G deployment. Up to £50 million is currently available for the UCC, including £25 million of DCMS funding.
DCMS are supporting the West Midlands Digital Skills Partnership which was launched in December last year. Bringing together some key regional stakeholders, supported by industry partners and Government, the West Midlands are exploring innovative ways in which to improve the talent pipeline in the region.Government further recognises that supporting digital businesses in the Midlands requires us to encourage innovation and adoption of digital tech in other sectors. The emerging West Midlands Industrial Strategy identifies exciting opportunities around data-driven health diagnostics, which will provide opportunities to test and commercialise new technologies, among wider opportunities for industrial digitisation applicable to local economic strengths. My officials also look forward to working with partners in Leicester & Leicestershire and Nottingham & Nottinghamshire in the near future, as they open discussion with Government around their Local Industrial Strategies.
12 - Question asked on 18/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce horse and donkey abandonment.
Answer - Defra is keen to ensure that we uphold our high standards of welfare including in relation to equines.
The Control of Horses Act 2015 means landowners and occupiers can remove horses and other equines, including donkeys and their hybrids, that are unlawfully left on their land and immediately take them to a place of safety. Landowners must notify the local police within 24 hours of doing so, as well as the equine’s owner if identifiable.
Local authorities have powers under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to investigate concerns about the ill-treatment or neglect of animals, and any person or organisation, such as the RSPCA, can take forward a private prosecution under the 2006 Act if there is sufficient evidence.
In addition, from October 2020 it will be mandatory for all owners to microchip their horses, ponies and donkeys. The new Central Equine Database will then allow local authorities and police to track down the owners of abandoned horses and ensure that appropriate action is taken, and the animals are given the care they deserve. It will also mean lost or stolen horses will be reunited with their owners more easily.
13 - Question asked on 20/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 March 2019 to Question 229719, what the most effective smoking cessation aids are; and what steps the Government is taking to promote those aids.
Answer - There is a range of effective stop smoking treatments available in the United Kingdom. Licensed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), particularly different products used in combination, increases the rate of quitting by 50% to 60%. The research findings are available in a report at the following link:
The prescription medicine Bupropion has similar efficacy to NRT, and Varenicline increases the chances of long-term quitting success between two and three times compared to a quit attempt without the use of a stop smoking aid. The research findings are available in a report at the following links:
14 - Question asked on 25/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on what date the Government plans to publish its school sport and activity action plan.
Answer - Government has announced that the school sport and activity action plan is expected to be published in spring 2019.The plan will consider ways to ensure that all children have access to quality, protected PE and sport sessions during the school week and opportunities to be physically active throughout the school day.
15 - Question asked on 25/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many Drug Rehabilitation Requirements have been granted by courts in England in each of the last two years for which figures are available.
Answer - The table below shows the number of Drug Rehabilitation Requirements (DRRs) commenced under community orders and suspended sentence orders in England and Wales in 2016 and 2017.
There is no available published data with a separation of figures for the two countries.
Year Number of DRRs commenced
We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England on a protocol to support the greater use of community sentences with treatment requirements in courts, including DRRs.
The Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR) protocol sets out what is expected from all relevant agencies to ensure improved access to treatment for offenders who need it. It focuses on reducing reoffending by addressing the health needs of offenders that may be contributing to their offending behaviour.
The protocol is operating across five courts within England (as health is devolved in Wales). These sites are Milton Keynes, Northampton, Birmingham, Sefton and Plymouth. The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019 includes a commitment by NHS England to build on these pilots. Decisions on how the use of the protocol could be extended will be made in due course, based on the evaluation of the test bed sites.
16 - Question asked on 25/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the level of access to superfast fibre broadband for (a) businesses and (b) members of the public in Mansfield; and what steps he is taking to improve such access.
Answer - The department does not distinguish between businesses and homes. According to Thinkbroadband, 99.7% of premises in Mansfield currently have access to superfast broadband.
The government has invested heavily in Nottinghamshire, with over £7.8 million of central government funding allocated. Superfast rollout delivery is managed by Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire (https://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/business-community/better-broadband-for-nottinghamshire-programme), our local delivery partner.
On top of superfast rollout, the department operates two vouchers schemes, the Gigabit Voucher Scheme and the Better Broadband Scheme, across the UK.
17 - Question asked on the 26/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to support the food and beverage sector in Nottinghamshire.
Answer - The Government works closely with the full spectrum of food and drink businesses across the country to promote growth, jobs, productivity and exports.
As elsewhere, we engage with businesses in Nottinghamshire, both directly and through trade associations, regional food groups and other businesses groups. We support them in their efforts to address economic challenges, understand and mitigate regulatory and compliance issues and prepare successfully for our departure from the EU.
18 - Question asked on the 26/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the feasibility of banning the use of non-recyclable plastics in Nottinghamshire.
Answer - I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the Rt. Hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, Tom Brake, on 25 February 2019, PQ 224037.
19 - Question asked on the 26/03/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of deaths that can be attributed to poor air quality in Nottinghamshire in each year since 2010.
Answer - The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants estimates that the mortality burden of the air pollution mixture (based on both PM2.5 and NO2) in the UK is equivalent to 28,000 to 36,000 deaths per year. Mortality burden is a statistical way of assessing the impact of diseases and pollution. Deaths of individuals are not attributed directly to air quality. The equivalent figures at a more localised level are not available.
Public Health England has, however, estimated the fraction of adult mortality attributable to long-term exposure to particulate air pollution at local authority level in the Public Health Outcomes Framework, available to view and search online at: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/public-health-outcomes-framework.