The Government has responded to a question of what extent gay “conversion” therapy is used, to say it does not know, but that it is “strongly opposed” to the practice.

Responding to a question from Lord Black of Brentwood, Earl Howe, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, said the Government had “made no estimate” of how much such therapy has been used, but that it was “strongly against” it.

Lord Black asked the Government: “What estimate they have made of the extent of the use of reparative or conversion therapy on homosexual men and women; and what is their policy towards it.”

Earl Howe’s written response, sent today, read: We have made no estimate of the extent of the use of reparative or conversion therapies on gay people. This Government does not believe that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is an illness to be treated or cured. We are therefore strongly against the practice of so called ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy.”

A cross-party group of 15 MPs earlier this month sent a joint letter to Health Minister Norman Lamb calling on him to do more to address the problem of gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

In November last year, the UK Government resisted calls by MPs to introduce statutory regulation of psychotherapists in order to prevent them from being able to carry out gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

Labour MP Geraint Davies has published a Private Members’ Bill in Parliament aimed at banning the practice by regulating the psychotherapy sector.

The bill will receive its second reading in June.

In February, Stonewall and the UK Council for Psychotherapy released a joint statement against gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

It was prepared by the leading psychological professional bodies in the UK, at the request of the Department of Health.