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Written Question
Opening of Parliament: Costs
Friday 20th May 2022

Asked by: Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru - Arfon)

Question

To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the cost to the House administration has been in (a) preparing and conducting the State Opening of Parliament and (b) providing officials with ceremonial garments for the State Opening of Parliament in each of the last five years.

Answered by Charles Walker

The main costs incurred for State Opening relate to maintenance works to support areas such as broadcasting and digital, as well as the installation works for the Royal Gallery, Robing Room, House of Lords Chamber and other areas. Costs are incurred for labour, both directly employed and specialist contractors, as well as transportation for items held in storage off site and the works required to the security barriers around St Stephens entrance.

Costs are split between the House of Commons, who pay 60%, and the House of Lords, who pay 40%. The table shows the House of Commons share for the last five years. Data for May 2022 is not yet available. In 2018 and 2020 there was no State Opening, while there were two in 2019.

£, House of Commons share

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Staff salaries

25,216

0

33,516

0

18,740

Other staff costs

224

0

0

0

309

Direct works

125,545

4,374

320,090

-594

107,628

Other

10,341

11,050

0

10,622

10,710

Total (House of Commons)

161,326

15,424

353,606

10,028

137,387


Other minor identifiable costs for the House of Commons not related to maintenance for State Opening in 2022 are shown in the table below.

Security pass provision (Commons share of 70%): £2,500

British Sign Language provision and audio description: £1,400


Ceremonial dress is purchased for roles in the House of Commons when needed during the year or when postholders change. Data on ceremonial uniform costs cannot be separated from other uniform spending.

Chamber related teams, including Clerks, the Speaker and their office, the Serjeant and their team of doorkeepers, require uniform supplies throughout the year. Total uniform expenditure for these functions over the last five years is shown below. Most of this spend relates to uniform for day to day use during the normal business of the House as well as supporting events and work outside the Chamber.

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

Uniform expenditure (Clerks, Speaker team, Serjeant team)

£17,824

£13,403

£25,607

£25,197

£23,285

This answer does not represent the full cost of State Opening, or costs directly incurred by the House of Lords. Costs will also have been incurred by other bodies, which may include Westminster City Council, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Household.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs
Thursday 28th April 2022

Asked by: Helen Hayes (Labour - Dulwich and West Norwood)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department will publish an (a) braille and (b) easy read version of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities review; and what steps he is taking to help ensure that the open consultation on that review is fully accessible.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

The department is committed to making its consultation on the SEND and AP green paper fully accessible to all. This enables anyone to have a say on the proposals in the SEND and AP system.

The department will be publishing an easy read and British Sign Language version of the green paper alongside our other accessible versions in April 2022. This is to further support those with vision, motor, cognitive, or learning difficulties and deafness or impaired hearing to engage fully in the consultation. A braille version of the green paper is also available by contacting: SENDreview.consultation@education.gov.uk.


Written Question
Hearing Impairment: Telephone Services
Tuesday 26th April 2022

Asked by: Feryal Clark (Labour - Enfield North)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of telephone services in England for d/Deaf people.

Answered by Gillian Keegan - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

No specific assessment has been made. NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned the North of England Commissioning Support Unit to carry out an independent review of commissioning arrangements for British Sign Language interpreting services. The review has now concluded and NHS England and NHS Improvement anticipate that the report will be published shortly. NHS England and NHS Improvement will work with all relevant stakeholders to implement the specific recommendations made in the report and ensure d/Deaf people are able to access National Health Service telephone services in England.

NHS organisations and publicly funded social care providers in England must also comply with the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) to meet the communication needs of patients and carers with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently reviewing the AIS and expect the updated standard to be published later in 2022.


Written Question
Hearing Impairment: Telephone Services
Tuesday 26th April 2022

Asked by: Feryal Clark (Labour - Enfield North)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department is taking steps to improve telephone services in England for d/Deaf people.

Answered by Gillian Keegan - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

No specific assessment has been made. NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned the North of England Commissioning Support Unit to carry out an independent review of commissioning arrangements for British Sign Language interpreting services. The review has now concluded and NHS England and NHS Improvement anticipate that the report will be published shortly. NHS England and NHS Improvement will work with all relevant stakeholders to implement the specific recommendations made in the report and ensure d/Deaf people are able to access National Health Service telephone services in England.

NHS organisations and publicly funded social care providers in England must also comply with the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) to meet the communication needs of patients and carers with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently reviewing the AIS and expect the updated standard to be published later in 2022.


Written Question
Health Services: Sign Language
Tuesday 26th April 2022

Asked by: Julian Knight (Conservative - Solihull)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance NHS England has issued to issues to healthcare Trusts on accessibility of British Sign Language interpreters for patients with hearing impairments.

Answered by Gillian Keegan - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned the North of England Commissioning Support Unit to undertake an independent review of commissioning arrangements for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting services in the National Health Service in England. The review has concluded and NHS England and NHS Improvement anticipate that its report will be published shortly.

NHS England issued ‘Guidance for Commissioners: Interpreting and Translation Services in Primary Care in September 2018’, which aims to provide practical advice to commissioners including details of the legal position, principles for high quality interpreting and translation services and commissioning and contracting considerations. While this guidance was initially provided for primary medical care services, it states that commissioners may find the contents applicable to other settings, such as other primary care settings or hospital sites.

No specific assessment of the performance of contracts issued to BSL provider has been made.


Written Question
Health Services: Sign Language
Tuesday 26th April 2022

Asked by: Julian Knight (Conservative - Solihull)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the performance of contracts issued by NHS England to British Sign Language interpretation providers.

Answered by Gillian Keegan - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned the North of England Commissioning Support Unit to undertake an independent review of commissioning arrangements for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting services in the National Health Service in England. The review has concluded and NHS England and NHS Improvement anticipate that its report will be published shortly.

NHS England issued ‘Guidance for Commissioners: Interpreting and Translation Services in Primary Care in September 2018’, which aims to provide practical advice to commissioners including details of the legal position, principles for high quality interpreting and translation services and commissioning and contracting considerations. While this guidance was initially provided for primary medical care services, it states that commissioners may find the contents applicable to other settings, such as other primary care settings or hospital sites.

No specific assessment of the performance of contracts issued to BSL provider has been made.


Written Question
British Sign Language: Northern Ireland
Wednesday 6th April 2022

Asked by: Baroness Hoey (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to amend the British Sign Language Bill to extend its provisions to Northern Ireland; and if they have no such plans, whether they intend to introduce a British sign language law in Northern Ireland.

Answered by Baroness Stedman-Scott - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Government is committed to supporting all people with a disability, including deaf people, to lead fulfilled, independent lives. For D/deaf people, we recognise that this should include the ability to communicate with others through British Sign Language (BSL) or other forms of deaf communication.

The Minister for Disabled People has been working closely with Rosie Cooper MP to support the aims and development of her Private Members Bill to promote BSL. The Bill does not extend to Northern Ireland, in recognition of the existence of both British and Irish Sign Language among the Northern Irish D/deaf community. The Northern Ireland Executive proposes to take forward its own bill recognising both of these languages.

This decision also reflects the territorial scope of the Equality Act 2010, which is limited to Great Britain.


Written Question
Bowel Cancer: Screening
Monday 4th April 2022

Asked by: Rushanara Ali (Labour - Bethnal Green and Bow)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help increase uptake of bowel screenings.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

To improve uptake in the NHS Bowel Screening Programme, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published information to support patients in choosing bowel screening on NHS.UK and GOV.UK. This information is available in different languages both in written and video formats, British Sign Language, easy read versions, large print and braille on request. The National Health Service continues to target communications at national and local level, including through social media, press and partnership work.


Written Question
State Retirement Pensions: Forms
Monday 28th March 2022

Asked by: Olivia Blake (Labour - Sheffield, Hallam)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has plans to review (a) support and (b) processes for applicants who require large print versions of state pensions forms in a paper format.

Answered by Guy Opperman - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

The online State Pension new claims service, Get your State Pension (GySP) is an accessible service so citizens have the option to manually enlarge the text on screen if required. The invitation letter sent to all citizens to invite a new claim to State Pension (SP) has the opening paragraph: If you would like Braille, British Sign Language, a hearing loop, translations, large print, audio or something else, please phone 0800 731 0469 or textphone 0800 731 7339. Additionally, during the claims process, the citizen is also asked if they have any alternative format requirements, such as Large Print. If the citizen selects ‘yes’, this triggers the central computer system to be updated to show they want letters in large print and the letters they receive will automatically be in large print.

A paper claim form, for State Pension (BR1) including large print and Braille versions, is readily available upon request. The form has recently been adapted to meet a RNIB request for accessibility. By contacting telephone 0800 731 0469 or textphone 0800 731 7339 the citizen will be asked if an alternative format [such as Large print] is required. Again, the computer system is updated to show they want letters in large print and the letters they receive will automatically be in large print.

The BR1 claim form is also available for printing on GOV.UK . This is for old rules citizens (men born before 6 April 1951 and women born before 6 April 1953). When printing the BR1 form, the citizen can choose to change the paper size - to print the BR1 form on A3 size paper if required. The new State Pension BR1 form was removed from GOV.UK in 2021 as part of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) review. This was due to the availability of an accessible on-line claiming service.

The Pension Service continually tries to improve its services to customers and ensures processes are kept under review as necessary.


Written Question
Higher Education: Special Educational Needs
Friday 25th March 2022

Asked by: Steve McCabe (Labour - Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to increase access to specialist higher education facilities for people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Answered by Michelle Donelan - Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)

This government believes it is important that disabled students receive an appropriate level of support wherever and whatever they choose to study and is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

The government expects all higher education (HE) providers to fulfil their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to be making reasonable adjustments for all disabled higher education students.

Wherever possible, disabled students should expect to have their needs met through inclusive learning practices and individual reasonable adjustments made by their HE provider.

The support students need will relate to their impairment or impairments. The attached table shows numbers of disabled students by impairment type in the 2020/21 academic year.

Disabled Students’ Allowance is available in addition to the reasonable adjustments made by HE providers for the provision of more specialist support such as British Sign Language interpretation.