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 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

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
Asked by Philip Davies
(Shipley)
Asked on: 21 November 2017
Ministry of Justice
Bail
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what action his Department requires courts to take upon being notified that a defendant has given an invalid or unavailable bail address to the court.
A
Answered by: Dominic Raab
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The decision to remand an individual in custody or to grant bail is solely a matter for the courts acting in accordance with the law. Where an individual has a condition of bail to reside at a particular address and it transpires that he is not, or may not, be living at that address, the court may notify the police who will investigate whether or not there has been a breach of bail conditions. If there is evidence of an alleged breach the individual can be arrested and brought before the court. The court may then either remand the individual in custody or amend the bail conditions.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 29 November 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sayed Alwadaei
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Embassy of Bahrain in the UK's involvement in actions against the family members of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei since October 2016.
A
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Government has raised these cases with the Government of Bahrain. We have received assurances from the Bahraini authorities that neither they nor the Embassy of Bahrain in the UK have been involved in any reprisals against the family members of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei.

Q
Asked by Zac Goldsmith
(Richmond Park)
[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 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plants: Sales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had discussions with UK retailers on the sale of plants grown with neonicotinoid pesticides; and if he will issue guidance to retailers not to sell plants grown with those pesticides.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Government remains of the view that decisions on the use of pesticides should be based on a careful scientific assessment of the risks. Pesticides that carry unacceptable risks to pollinators should not be authorised.

Three neonicotinoids are currently subject to restrictions which normally prohibit their use on a number of crops. The UK has fully implemented these restrictions. We have also said that we support further restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides based on an assessment of the evidence, including that they may have an impact on soils.

Currently, ornamental plants can be treated with neonicotinoids if the plant is grown in a greenhouse, is treated after flowering, or doesn’t flower until the year after treatment.

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
East Coast Railway Line
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what infrastructure improvements by Network Rail had been (1) contracted, and (2) announced, in respect of the East Coast Main Line at the time the contract with Virgin Rail Group and Stagecoach Group for the East Coast franchise was signed; and what precise contractual obligations lay with (a) HM Government, and (b) Network Rail, to ensure the timely completion of those works as part of that franchise.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

At the time the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise was awarded NR were developing a package of enhancements to the route that sought to enable the Intercity Express Programme fleet to operate, increase the frequency of trains and reduce journey times for passengers. The infrastructure enhancements on East Coast Main Line were announced by Network Rail in their published Enhancement Delivery Plan, which is regulated by the Office and Rail and Road (ORR).

There are no contractual arrangements between Network Rail and HM Government in respect of these works.

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
East Coast Rail Franchise
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Comptroller and Auditor General was informed, prior to the announcement on 29 November, of the decision to terminate the Stagecoach Group and Virgin Rail Group East Coast franchise three years early; and if so, whether he raised any issues or concerns.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Comptroller and Auditor General was not informed prior to the announcement on 29th November.

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Railways: Franchises
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the statement by Baroness Sugg on 29 November (HL Deb, cols 679-682), whether any rail franchise operator, other than Stagecoach Group and Virgin Rail Group on the East Coast franchise, will be eligible to terminate their existing franchise early and forge a public private partnership instead.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

We expect all operators and their guarantors to continue to fulfil their financial and contractual commitments.

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Railways: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the traffic performance of each of the train companies operating rail franchises in the first six months of 2017; and how that performance compares to the projections of traffic for that period in those companies' final bids for the franchises.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Office of Rail and Road produces data on the number of passenger journeys made (millions) on franchised train operators in Great Britain. The data for the period between January and March; and April and June 2017 are given in the table below:

Rail passenger journeys by franchised train operator, Great Britain

Jan - Mar 2017

Apr - Jun 2017

Arriva Trains Wales

7.8

8.0

c2c

12.3

11.6

Caledonian Sleeper

0.1

0.1

Chiltern Railways

7.0

6.8

CrossCountry

9.7

9.7

East Midlands Trains

6.7

6.6

Govia Thameslink Railway

80.3

77.9

Great Western Railway

25.7

25.9

Greater Anglia

20.5

19.9

London Midland

19.3

17.6

London Overground

47.5

47.0

Merseyrail

9.6

10.1

Northern

27.4

25.7

ScotRail

23.9

23.5

South West Trains

58.0

52.1

Southeastern

46.9

41.6

TfL Rail

11.3

10.2

TransPennine Express

6.9

6.5

Virgin Trains East Coast

5.5

5.3

Virgin Trains West Coast

9.7

9.2

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Railways: Franchises
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Baroness Sugg on 29 November (HL Deb, cols 679–82), whether any other rail company, besides Stagecoach Group and Virgin Rail Group on the East Coast franchise, has indicated to HM Government a desire to end its existing franchise early and forge a public–private partnership; and if so, which.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

Due to commercial confidentiality, we don’t comment on the financial position of individual franchises. We work closely with all our franchisees throughout their contracts and monitor their progress against their contractual commitments. We expect all operators and their guarantors to continue to fulfil their financial and contractual commitments.

Q
Asked by Lord Bird
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Social Enterprises
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 1 August (HL1112), in what ways their Industrial Strategy will better support social enterprises.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Government’s ambitious, modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the United Kingdom with investment in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future.

We will drive productivity in businesses and social enterprises of all sizes by increasing collaboration, building skills and ensuring everyone has the opportunity of ‘good work’ and better, higher-paying jobs. We will create a business environment equipped for the challenges and opportunities of new technologies and new ways of doing business, including innovative social enterprises that make an enormous contribution to our economy and our communities across the country.

The Government is clear that the industrial strategy is part of our work to deliver an economy that works for everyone. It is a long term strategy to boost productivity and earning power of all people throughout the UK.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Roads: Construction
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many major highway enhancement schemes, costing more than £5 billion, were completed in the period 2010–15; what were the value for money criteria on which those projects were authorised; how much of any assessed benefit was attributed to time savings by road users; and whether the anticipated savings have been realised.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

There have been no major highway enhancement schemes costing more than £5 billion completed between 2010-2015.

Q
Asked by Lord Naseby
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of the estimate by the Civil Aviation Authority that 1.5 million drones will be sold this Christmas; and what actions they propose to take to publicise safeguards for the use of drones.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The government takes the safety risks drones can pose very seriously, and has recently announced a package of legislative measures to address this for Spring 2018. The measures include registration, leisure pilot test and new police powers.

The Department for Transport supports the CAA in carrying out its Dronecode safety awareness campaign. The CAA is leading a special Christmas effort with retailers and other drone industry stakeholders to remind any new drone owners of the rules. Buyers of drones this Christmas should buy from a Dronesafe approved retailer, who will provide info on safety rules at point of sale, and log onto www.dronesafe.uk to learn more.

Grouped Questions: HL3847 | HL3848
Q
Asked by Lord Naseby
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to contact relevant retailers and online operators to seek co-operation in publicising safeguards for the use of drones.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The government takes the safety risks drones can pose very seriously, and has recently announced a package of legislative measures to address this for Spring 2018. The measures include registration, leisure pilot test and new police powers.

The Department for Transport supports the CAA in carrying out its Dronecode safety awareness campaign. The CAA is leading a special Christmas effort with retailers and other drone industry stakeholders to remind any new drone owners of the rules. Buyers of drones this Christmas should buy from a Dronesafe approved retailer, who will provide info on safety rules at point of sale, and log onto www.dronesafe.uk to learn more.

Grouped Questions: HL3846 | HL3848
Q
Asked by Lord Naseby
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to mount a short-term campaign across all media around Christmas publicising safeguards for the use of drones.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The government takes the safety risks drones can pose very seriously, and has recently announced a package of legislative measures to address this for Spring 2018. The measures include registration, leisure pilot test and new police powers.

The Department for Transport supports the CAA in carrying out its Dronecode safety awareness campaign. The CAA is leading a special Christmas effort with retailers and other drone industry stakeholders to remind any new drone owners of the rules. Buyers of drones this Christmas should buy from a Dronesafe approved retailer, who will provide info on safety rules at point of sale, and log onto www.dronesafe.uk to learn more.

Grouped Questions: HL3846 | HL3847
Q
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Poverty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Buscombe on 28 November (HL3456), how they assess and evaluate (1) progress in tackling poverty, and (2) the impact of their fiscal and welfare policies on those vulnerable groups of people they have pledged to assist.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 15 December 2017

This Government is committed to action that tackles the root causes of poverty and disadvantage with policies that incentivise employment as the best route out of poverty. In Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families, we set out a framework for a continued focus on improving children’s long-term outcomes. This includes nine national indicators to track progress in tackling the disadvantages that affect families and children. Four of these measures are set out in Primary legislation which places a duty on the Government report annually to Parliament on the parental worklessness and educational attainment indicators. Data on the non-statutory indicators will also be published each year.

The Government carefully considers the equality impacts of individual policies on those with protected characteristics, including gender, race and disability - in line with both its legal obligations and with its strong commitment to equality issues.

Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) undertake distributional analysis, at each fiscal event, to assess the impact of tax, welfare and public spending changes on household incomes. The latest was published to accompany Autumn Budget 2017.

HMT Budget 2017 (PDF Document, 383.16 KB)
Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families (PDF Document, 808.37 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Shipley
Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Transport
Leamside Railway Line
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are planning to re-open the Leamside railway line between Sunderland, Washington and Durham; if so, what steps they are taking to achieve this; how much progress has been made; and when they expect that line to re-open.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Government is working with local authorities and other partners to identify the best new rail projects that can unlock new housing and economic growth, ease overcrowding, meet future demand and offer good value for money.

No immediate decisions have been made to reopen the Leamside line.

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 05 December 2017
Department for Transport
Railways: Franchises
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they made of the impact on the budget of the Department for Transport of the changes to the franchising regime announced on 29 November; and whether the Department agreed those changes in advance with Her Majesty’s Treasury.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

We work with Her Majesty’s Treasury on all issues that affect significant public spending and budget allowance.

At Her Majesty’s Government, investment decisions are made based on a rigorous and fair appraisal process that ensures spending goes to the projects and programmes where it is most needed and delivers greatest value-for-money for both taxpayers and passengers.

We are always looking for the best ways to achieve value for money for the tax payer and the best results for passengers. Announced reforms will build on the best of the public and private sectors, with private sector involvement bringing innovation, investment and competition.

Q
Asked by Lord Adonis
Asked on: 05 December 2017
Department for Transport
Railways: Franchises
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government which external consultants were engaged to assist or advise on the new policy on rail franchising announced on 29 November.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Department for Transport sought advice from Arup, KMPG, Oxera, PwC, Roland Berger and SDG in relation to the rail franchising policies announced on 29 November.

Q
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 05 December 2017
Department for Work and Pensions
Welfare State: Reform
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Buscombe on 28 November (HL3456), how they monitor the accumulated impact of welfare benefit changes on different groups; and what assessment they have made of that impact.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 15 December 2017

Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) undertake a distributional analysis, at each fiscal event, to assess the accumulated impact of tax, welfare and public spending changes on household incomes. The latest analysis was published to accompany Autumn Budget 2017.

In terms of monitoring the impacts on different groups, the Department publishes annual estimates of households living in low income in the Households Below Average Incomes (HBAI) publication. These statistics set out long run trends in the risks of different groups living in low income households. The latest estimates are to 2015/16 and 2016/17 results have been pre-announced to be published in March 2018.

HMT Budget 2017 (PDF Document, 383.16 KB)
HBAI Incomes (PDF Document, 849.97 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 05 December 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they estimate will be the components of the UK’s energy mix in (1) 2030, and (2) 2050.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 15 December 2017

The Climate Change Act requires the UK to reduce it emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and the recently set fifth carbon budget requires us to reduce our emissions in 2032 by 57%.

Meeting these targets will require changes to the UK’s energy mix and other sectors. The Clean Growth Strategy sets out one possible pathway to meeting our fifth carbon budget, and three illustrative pathways to 2050.

Asked on: 05 December 2017
Ministry of Defence
Warships
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 5 December, how many Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are in commission on 5 December; and how many will be in commission on (1) 1 December 2020, (2) 1 December 2025, and (3) 1 December 2030.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 15 December 2017

As of 5 December 2017, there were 72 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in commission. On current plans, there will be 77 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in Commission in December 2020 and beyond.

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