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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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 on: 10 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Business Commissioner
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the commitment set out in the document Small Business Commissioner: Policy for Secondary Legislation, published in February, that the Small Business Commissioner's complaints scheme will formally begin on 1 October, whether small businesses may now submit complaints; and through what process they can do so.
A
Corrected answer by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Corrected on: 13 November 2017
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 19 October 2017.
The correct answer should have been:

On 2 October my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State announced the appointment of Paul Uppal as the UK’s first Small Business Commissioner (SBC). Mr Uppal and his team will provide general advice and information to small businesses on matters such as resolving payment disputes, including signposting small businesses through the SBC’s website to existing support and dispute resolution services.

The SBC complaints scheme is dependent on secondary legislation, which is currently being considered by Parliament. Small businesses will be able to submit complaints once the service fully launches, including complaints relating to issues from 1 6 April 2017. The office of the SBC will be operational by the end of 2017, subject to the will of Parliament.

A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 October 2017

On 2 October my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State announced the appointment of Paul Uppal as the UK’s first Small Business Commissioner (SBC). Mr Uppal and his team will provide general advice and information to small businesses on matters such as resolving payment disputes, including signposting small businesses through the SBC’s website to existing support and dispute resolution services.

The SBC complaints scheme is dependent on secondary legislation, which is currently being considered by Parliament. Small businesses will be able to submit complaints once the service fully launches, including complaints relating to issues from 1 6 April 2017. The office of the SBC will be operational by the end of 2017, subject to the will of Parliament.

Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nuclear Power Stations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the maintenance and timely replacement of the nuclear power element of the UK’s electricity production.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

The Government recognises the important role of nuclear in our energy mix. Last September we signed a deal to build the first new nuclear plant in the UK for over 20 years. Hinkley Point C will provide 3.2 gigawatts low carbon electricity for 60 years, meeting around 7% of the UK’s electricity needs.

Further, on 12 October the Government published its Clean Growth Strategy, which committed continuing to work with nuclear developers on their new build proposals, including on financing plans, as well as investing £460 million in nuclear to support work in areas including future nuclear fuels, new nuclear manufacturing techniques, recycling and reprocessing, and advanced reactor design. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is also working with industry to develop a nuclear Sector Deal as part of the Industrial Strategy, looking at boosting competitiveness and skills across the sector.

Q
Asked by Lord Moynihan
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Utilities
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) consumer protections, (2) redress schemes, (3) requirements to provide information and (4) requirements to treat consumers fairly currently exist in UK law in relation to third-party intermediaries which offer water and energy services to consumers, including under the retail exit programme for water companies.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

In energy the Confidence Code is a Code of Practice to govern independent energy price comparison websites. Ofgem accredits sites to the Code and these must follow key principles in order to operate their service. When customers are presented with options and prices, they have been calculated and are displayed in a fair and unbiased way.

Accredited price comparison websites must operate an effective complaints process. If a customer has a complaint, they should first contact the comparison site to tell them so that they can try to resolve it. If a customer is not satisfied with the outcome, they can then contact Ofgem who will then investigate the issue.

The business retail water market opened in April. Third party intermediaries such as water brokers play an important role in supporting many customers in finding the best deal for their business. The marketing activities of such intermediaries operating in the water market, as with intermediaries generally, are subject to regulation. The Competition and Markets Authority and trading standard authorities have roles in ensuring that customers are not misled when switching to alternative suppliers. The ‘Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008’ apply to marketing activities in the water retail market.

Ofwat acts as the independent economic regulator of the new market. The Retail Exits Regulations required Ofwat to introduce a code to apply to customers who are transferred via an exit setting out the contract terms that will apply. Additionally all retailers must follow Ofwat’s customer protection code of practice that contains key customer protection obligations, including a requirement for retailers to obtain written confirmation from customers who choose to use the services of a third party intermediary.

Q
Asked on: 18 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in relation to electricity costs, what they estimate the percentage increase will be for Balancing Services Use of System charges between (1) now and 2020, and (2) now and 2030; and what proportion of these increases will be attributable to efforts to connect renewable energy sources to the national grid.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

Transmission, distribution and balancing charges are set by network companies in line with the charging methodologies approved by Ofgem, as the independent regulator.

Network companies also produce some future estimates of these charges. These include National Grid’s forecasts of Transmission Network Use of System charges for 2018/19 to 2021/22 (available at: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/System-charges/Electricity-transmission/Approval-conditions/Condition-5/) and Balancing Services Use of System charges to 2018/19 (available at: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/Electricity-transmission-operational-data/Report-explorer/Services-Reports/). These forecasts are not broken down to show renewable energy sources.

Grouped Questions: HL2181 | HL2182
Q
Asked on: 18 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in relation to electricity costs, what they estimate the percentage increase will be for Distribution Services Use of System charges between (1) now and 2020, and (2) now and 2030; and what proportion of these increases will be attributable to efforts to connect renewable energy sources to the national grid.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

Transmission, distribution and balancing charges are set by network companies in line with the charging methodologies approved by Ofgem, as the independent regulator.

Network companies also produce some future estimates of these charges. These include National Grid’s forecasts of Transmission Network Use of System charges for 2018/19 to 2021/22 (available at: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/System-charges/Electricity-transmission/Approval-conditions/Condition-5/) and Balancing Services Use of System charges to 2018/19 (available at: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/Electricity-transmission-operational-data/Report-explorer/Services-Reports/). These forecasts are not broken down to show renewable energy sources.

Grouped Questions: HL2180 | HL2182
Q
Asked on: 18 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity: Fees and Charges
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in relation to electricity costs, what they estimate the percentage increase will be for Transmission Network Use of System charges between (1) now and 2020, and (2) now and 2030; and what proportion of these increases will be attributable to efforts to connect renewable energy sources to the national grid.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

Transmission, distribution and balancing charges are set by network companies in line with the charging methodologies approved by Ofgem, as the independent regulator.

Network companies also produce some future estimates of these charges. These include National Grid’s forecasts of Transmission Network Use of System charges for 2018/19 to 2021/22 (available at: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/System-charges/Electricity-transmission/Approval-conditions/Condition-5/) and Balancing Services Use of System charges to 2018/19 (available at: http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/Electricity-transmission-operational-data/Report-explorer/Services-Reports/). These forecasts are not broken down to show renewable energy sources.

Grouped Questions: HL2180 | HL2181
Asked on: 19 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of Brexit on the EU Emissions Trading System.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

The Government is considering carefully the potential impacts of a wide range of EU Exit scenarios relating to the EU ETS, both on the system itself and on UK operators covered by the system. This includes consideration of the risks that a mid-Phase exit of the EU ETS could present for UK operators.

To ensure a smooth transition and avoid a cliff edge on withdrawal, the UK has proposed to the EU an implementation period of about two years where we would continue to have access to each other’s markets on current terms. We are calling for this to be agreed as early as possible to provide clarity.

Grouped Questions: HL2266 | HL2267
Asked on: 19 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on UK operators covered by the EU Emissions Trading System if the UK were to exit the EU Emissions Trading System before the end of phase 3 of the system in 2020.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

The Government is considering carefully the potential impacts of a wide range of EU Exit scenarios relating to the EU ETS, both on the system itself and on UK operators covered by the system. This includes consideration of the risks that a mid-Phase exit of the EU ETS could present for UK operators.

To ensure a smooth transition and avoid a cliff edge on withdrawal, the UK has proposed to the EU an implementation period of about two years where we would continue to have access to each other’s markets on current terms. We are calling for this to be agreed as early as possible to provide clarity.

Grouped Questions: HL2265 | HL2267
Asked on: 19 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to avoid penalties for non-compliance being levied against UK operators in the event that the UK exits the EU Emissions Trading System before the end of phase 3 of the system in 2020.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

The Government is considering carefully the potential impacts of a wide range of EU Exit scenarios relating to the EU ETS, both on the system itself and on UK operators covered by the system. This includes consideration of the risks that a mid-Phase exit of the EU ETS could present for UK operators.

To ensure a smooth transition and avoid a cliff edge on withdrawal, the UK has proposed to the EU an implementation period of about two years where we would continue to have access to each other’s markets on current terms. We are calling for this to be agreed as early as possible to provide clarity.

Grouped Questions: HL2265 | HL2266
Asked on: 19 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide UK operators covered by the EU Emissions Trading System with certainty on the future of the UK’s participation in the System, both for the remainder of the current phase and the upcoming phase 4, as well as on domestic carbon pricing and carbon trading policy.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

As the Clean Growth Strategy sets out, the Government is considering the UK’s future participation in the EU ETS after our exit from the EU, and we remain firmly committed to carbon pricing as an emissions reduction tool whilst ensuring energy and trade intensive businesses are appropriately protected from any detrimental impacts on competitiveness.

Whatever our future relationship with the EU, we will seek to ensure that our future approach is at least as ambitious as the existing scheme and provide a smooth transition for the relevant sectors. The UK’s commitment and leadership role in tackling climate change remains undimmed and working closely with the EU on this global challenge will remain important.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 19 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what was the cost of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme in Great Britain in each of the last four years; (2) what is the budget for the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme subsidy payments for the next six years; (3) why a cap was introduced in 2016; and (4) at what cost level it is pegged.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 October 2017

Data on payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes are given in the table below.

Year

Domestic RHI

Non-domestic RHI

Total

13/14

0

£54m

£54m

14/15

£23m

£148m

£171m

15/16

£77m

£296m

£373m

16/17

£92m

£454m

£546m

Based on data to end Aug 2017


In November 2015, the Government confirming a continued budget for the RHI to 2020/21, as set out in the table below. A budget cap allowing the scheme to be closed to new applications was introduced to reinforce existing cost control mechanisms within the RHI, to ensure that scheme expenditure does not exceed the allocated annual budgets.

16/17

17/18

18/19

19/20

20/21

Budget

£640m

£780m

£900m

£1010m

£1150m

Q
Asked on: 19 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Triclocarban and Triclosan
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are taking action to encourage manufacturers of over-the-counter consumer goods such as soaps, toothpastes, and cosmetics to eliminate triclosan and triclocarbon from their products.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 25 October 2017

The use of tricolsan and triclocarbon is restricted by Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on Cosmetic Products. Manufacturers may only use these preservatives at specified levels and triclosan is only permitted at those levels in a limited range of cosmetic products. Both ingredients have been examined by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety who considered them to be safe at these restricted levels and usages.

Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Joint European Torus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to seek to maintain the activities of, and ensure completion of ongoing experiments at, the Joint European Torus (JET) nuclear fusion facility at Culham in Oxfordshire after the end of the current contract between the European Commission and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in 2018.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 24 October 2017

The Government is committed to ensuring that the UK continues to lead the world in fusion research[1]. We have taken action to secure the future of the Joint European Torus (JET) facility by guaranteeing the UK’s share of JET costs until the end of 2020, and are working closely with the UK Atomic Energy Authority to engage positively with EU partners. The relevant Written Ministerial Statement on the JET underwrite can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2017-06-27/HCWS13/ .

[1] A 2016 independent review by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) found the UK fusion research programme to be ‘of world-class quality, in facilities, people and impact’.

Written Ministerial Statement (PDF Document, 109.77 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Birt
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Natural Gas: Storage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many billions of KWh of natural gas storage the UK possesses; and what comparative estimate they have made of the equivalent figures for (1) Germany, (2) France, and (3) Italy.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

On the 8th October 2017 (the most recent date for which data is available), there were 21 TWh (21 billion KWh) of natural gas in storage in various facilities across the UK. This is compared to 100 TWh in France, 202 TWh in Germany, and 184 TWh in Italy.

However, a direct comparison between these countries does not reflect the amount of indigenous gas production available to them – when North Sea gas stocks are included in these figures, the UK is broadly in line with the rest of Europe.

Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Property Searches
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to authorise the HM Land Registries scheme to digitise local land charge data; and when they plan to provide a fixed timeframe for the sign off of the local land charges register project.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

Work is already underway on the Local Land Charges programme, which will provide a central, digital service for local land charges by consolidating local authority registers into a single register. As with any major project, the government will review and approve the programme at key stages as appropriate.

Q
Asked on: 16 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Bombardier: USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many interactions, and with which officials, have they had with the government of the United States regarding the trade dispute brought by Boeing against Bombardier.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set out in his statement to Parliament on 10 October 2017, Ministers and senior officials across government have had extensive engagement with the government of the United States regarding this trade dispute. The total of significant interaction amounts to twenty-five calls and meetings. This includes with senior members of the US Administration and Congress.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has discussed the matter a number of times with President Trump, stressing the importance of Bombardier’s operations in Belfast and asking the US Government to do all they can to encourage Boeing to drop its complaint. Cabinet Ministers, including the Business Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Defence Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Trade Secretary and the Northern Ireland Secretary, have reinforced the UK’s serious concerns with, among others, the US Secretary of Commerce, the US Secretary of State, the US Treasury Secretary, the US Trade Representative and other members of the US Administration, as well as the EU Trade Commissioner.

Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nuclear Power
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government which departments will be responsible for the management of any future legislation relating to Euratom and EU Directives on (1) radioactive waste and spent fuel management, (2) protection against ionising radiation, (3) the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel, and (4) drinking water.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is the Department responsible for negotiating and reporting on the transposition of legislation relating to Euratom. Arrangements for future co-operation with Euratom are currently under negotiation. The implementation of Euratom Directives on radioactive waste and spent fuel management, protection against ionising radiation and the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel is generally the responsibility of BEIS, although some other Government departments and agencies have responsibility for specific areas. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs generally has responsibility for EU Directives regarding drinking water. Decisions on departmental responsibilities for the management of any future legislation will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nuclear Power
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote integrated working between the agencies responsible for licensing nuclear sites and for safeguarding the public and the environment in the UK following the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

Robust arrangements are in place to ensure effective joint regulatory working in relation to safe plant operation and in relation to controlling the use of radioactive substances and the safe management and disposal of consequential waste arisings. It is not anticipated that these arrangements will be affected by the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.

Q
Asked by Lord Mawson
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Businesses
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government who within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has responsibility for overseeing and monitoring (1) the overall impact of Government legislation, and (2) the burden of regulation, on small and medium-sized enterprises.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

The Better Regulation Executive within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy works across Whitehall departments and with regulators to deliver the Government’s commitment to regulate more effectively over the course of this Parliament. This includes monitoring and reporting to Parliament on the overall impact of legislation and regulatory burdens on businesses of all sizes.

Q
Asked by Lord Moynihan
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Utilities
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to publish a Green Paper during the current Parliament which covers consumer protection in relation to third-party intermediaries which offer water and energy services.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

The Government will publish a green paper in due course that will closely examine markets which are not working for consumers.

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