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 by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 02 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Rented Housing: Repairs and Maintenance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of rented properties which they anticipate will benefit from the requirement for landlords to upgrade properties rated in energy bands F and G to at least band E; and what is their estimate of the number of such properties which will be exempted from the requirement on the grounds that the work would be at net cost to the landlord.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015, all landlords of domestic and non-domestic privately rented property in England and Wales will need to ensure that, from 1 April 2018, their properties reach at least an energy performance rating of E before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants, unless a prescribed exemption applies.

Based on the most recent English Housing Survey data, BEIS has estimated that, as of 2017, there were approximately 278,000 domestic, and around 200,000 non-domestic privately rented properties in England and Wales with an energy performance rating below E. We have made no formal estimate of the number of landlords in the domestic sector who may seek an exemption from these requirements on grounds of cost.

Government announced recently in the Clean Growth Strategy that it will consult shortly on steps to make the domestic energy efficiency regulations more effective. We will also look at a longer term trajectory to improve the energy performance standards of privately rented homes, with the aim of upgrading as many private rented homes as possible to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2030 where practical, cost effective and affordable.

Q
Asked by Lord Hain
Asked on: 13 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Shops: Closures
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many bookshops have closed in the UK since 2010.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 04 October 2017

In 2016, there were 2,005 retail units specialised in selling books in the UK, compared to 2,055 in 2010 (ONS business counts).

Q
Asked on: 12 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electric Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve the capacity of the electricity grid to cope with additional demand resulting from increased numbers of electric cars and buses.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 26 September 2017

The Government has set out its ambition for almost all cars and vans to be zero emissions by 2050, and that sales of new conventional cars and vans will end by 2040. By setting these long-term goals, the Government can ensure that there is plenty of time to ready the grid for the mass transition towards cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

We have regular discussions with all the key parties in the electricity systems – including energy suppliers, network operators and National Grid – to ensure that all parties are prepared for electric vehicle take up. The capacity market is our principal tool for ensuring we have sufficient capacity to meet demand. National Grid use the latest trends in supply and demand (including from electric vehicles) when advising on the volume of capacity to secure through these auctions.

Distribution Network Operators forecast the likely uptake of plug-in electric vehicles, in discussion with Government, in order to shape their investment plans. Government is also taking powers as part of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill to require all new chargepoints sold or installed in the UK to be smart enabled. Smart charging can help reduce the impact of electric vehicles on the electricity network by ensuring that they can flex to the grid’s need, avoiding existing peaks in demand.

Q
Asked on: 11 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lighting
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government who made the decision to replace the lightbulb classification system from watts to lumens; and whether they intend to review that classification system once the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 September 2017

No decision has been made to replace lightbulb classification from watts to lumens. The “luminous efficacy” of lightbulbs has for many years internationally been measured in lumens (measure of brightness) per watt (measure of power). This is the ratio of light out /energy in. There are currently information requirements placed on suppliers of lightbulbs that require the packaging to display the equivalent Watts of the lumen rating. However, as the demand for LEDs increases in the UK, lumens per watt is becoming a more appropriate measure of a lamp’s effectiveness in converting electricity to light.

Q
Asked on: 12 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Businesses: Government Assistance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the monetary benefit to individual small and medium-sized enterprises from support provided under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 September 2017

At around 5.5m, small and medium-sized businesses comprise 99.9% of UK businesses. The Government recognises the importance of small and medium-sized businesses and the valuable contribution that they make to our economy.

To avoid overburdening businesses the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 has, amongst other things, reduced regulatory burdens, improved payment practices across the public sector and improved access to finance.

In many instances it would be difficult to quantify the monetary benefit directly attributable to the support provided under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, rather than by other business activities.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hinkley Point C Power Station
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have contractually guaranteed a minimum level of energy production from the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station that consumers or the National Grid will buy in 2030, even if that energy is not needed due to the growth of renewable energy and home energy storage; and, if so, what that level is.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 September 2017

The Government has not contractually agreed a minimum level of energy production from the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. The Contract for Difference (CfD), agreed on October 2016, is an agreement to pay the generator the difference between the wholesale market price and a “strike price” for every megawatt hour of electricity they generate. It is the generator’s responsibility to sell their power in the wholesale market.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hinkley Point C Power Station
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have contractually guaranteed a minimum level of subsidy to Hinkley Point C nuclear power station for providing back-up energy capacity; and, if so, (1) what that level is, and (2) whether this will be funded by taxes or by users through their energy bills.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 September 2017

The Government has not contractually agreed a minimum level of subsidy to Hinkley Point C nuclear power station for providing back up energy capacity. System balancing decisions are for the system operator, who may choose to contract with HPC in the 2020s as with any other system user, but no such contracts are currently in place.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hinkley Point C Power Station
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether consumers and households who do not use grid electricity will have to pay for any of the electricity produced by Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 September 2017

No, consumers and households who do not use grid electricity will not pay for any of the electricity produced by Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Q
Asked by Lord Naseby
Asked on: 12 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hurricanes and Tornadoes: Caribbean
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether use was made of the UK's remote sensing and satellite technology to predict the impact of the storm system of Hurricane Irma; and if so, by whom.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 September 2017

The Met Office is the UK National Met Service and monitors weather around the world, including hurricanes in the Caribbean such as Irma. For this purpose the Met Office uses a wide range of observations, including satellite and remote sensing technologies which form a crucial input to its weather modeling capability. Model predictions on the track of hurricanes together with information on their intensity and structure are used by the Met Office in its briefings to Her Majesty’s Government but also shared with the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Centre.

Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity: Storage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to develop a strategy to ensure future continuity on network charging in relation to electricity storage; and if so, how.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The charging regime is the responsibility of Ofgem as the independent regulator. In the joint BEIS/Ofgem Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan released on 24 July 2017 it was recognised that at present network charges can put storage at a relative disadvantage to other network users, preventing a level playing field.

The Government is keen to see fair changes to the charging regime that create a level playing field for storage. Ofgem indicated that changes to storage charging would be best and most rapidly brought forward by industry, and two modifications have now been raised to address this issue. Ofgem also expects industry to provide guidance on the treatment of storage as intermittent or non-intermittent in the distribution charging methodologies by the end of 2017.

Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Cost of Energy Independent Review
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the specific financial interests which are referred to in the declaration of interest by Professor Dieter Helm published on 6 August in relation to the cost of energy review.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The review is being conducted in accordance with well-established principles for transparency and accountability, typical of this kind of independent review. As the declaration of interests makes clear, Professor Helm will not change any financial interest he might have in companies that are active in the UK energy sector during the course of the review.

Q
Asked on: 12 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Tidal Power: Swansea Bay
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their timescale for making a decision on plans for a Swansea tidal lagoon, following publication of the Hendry Review in January.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The Government is considering the findings of the independent Hendry Review before deciding, in light of the relevant factors, its position on the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project.

Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Groceries Code Adjudicator
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to report on the outcome of the call for evidence into whether there should be an extension of the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 14 September 2017

We are planning to report the outcome of the Call for Evidence on extending the Groceries Code Adjudicator’s remit in the autumn.

Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity: Storage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what definition of electricity storage they intend to use in the provision of storage licences.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 September 2017

The Government and Ofgem’s Smart Systems and Flexibility plan, published in July, announced that Ofgem will shortly consult on a modified generation license for electricity storage facilities. This document set out that the Government and Ofgem will use the definition of storage provided by the Electricity Storage Network, which received broad support from industry, as the basis for defining storage in regulations including licences.

The Electricity Storage Network’s definition is:

• “Electricity Storage” in the electricity system is the conversion of electrical energy into a form of energy which can be stored, the storing of that energy, and the subsequent reconversion of that energy back into electrical energy.

• “Electricity Storage Facility” in the electricity system means a facility where Electricity Storage occurs.

Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electricity: Storage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to remove the double charging of consumption levies in relation to storage facilities.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 September 2017

The Government and Ofgem’s Smart Systems and Flexibility plan, published in July, addressed the issue of storage operators paying levies intended for final consumers, on the electricity they procure from energy suppliers. Electricity supplied to generation licence holders is excluded from the supply volumes used to calculate the costs of the Renewables Obligation, Contracts for Difference and Feed in Tariffs schemes, and Capacity Market auctions. Ofgem will shortly consult on a new modified generation licence for storage facilities, which would mean that holders of this licence would not pay towards such levies.

The Government has also clarified that the electricity received and stored by electricity storage facilities may be supplied to them free from the Climate Change Levy where relevant conditions are met, as set out in HM Revenue and Custom’s Excise Notice CCL1/3 – Reliefs and special treatments for taxable commodities.

Q
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Businesses: Loans
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the finding contained in the Bank of England's Money and Credit June 2017 Statistical Release that there was a £0.2 billion fall in investment in non-financial small and medium sized enterprises in the year to June; and what plans they have to increase investment in such enterprises.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 September 2017

The statistical release identifies that in July 2017 new loans were made of £5.2bn compared with repayment of existing debts of £5.4bn. However in the previous month there had been a £0.4bn increase in overall lending.

These movements are best understood as part of the broader context which shows that since summer 2016, loans to non-financial small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have consistently been higher than the previous 12 months and this remains the case in the latest data. In the 12 months ending July 2017, net bank lending to SMEs actually rose by £1.2bn.

We are working hard to give UK SMEs the support they need to start and grow. Growth Hubs provide information and guidance across the country and British Business Bank programmes are supporting £3.4 billion of finance to more than 59,000 smaller businesses.

Q
Asked on: 06 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Diesel Vehicles: Exhaust Emissions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the investigation by the German anti-trust authorities into German car manufacturers that are alleged to have operated a cartel and colluded to misrepresent diesel emissions; whether they intend to report those companies to the National Crime Agency to investigate whether any UK directors and managers were involved; and if not, why not.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 September 2017

Investigations into alleged anti-competitive practices are a matter for the independent competition authorities – the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and, where relevant, the European Commission.

Q
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electric Vehicles: Batteries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Faraday Challenge will promote research and development of new technologies to support the sustainable disposal or recycling of used electric vehicle batteries.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 13 September 2017

£246m of funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has been committed to the ‘Faraday Challenge’ to develop world leading batteries, designed and manufactured in the UK, to fully exploit the industrial opportunity of vehicle electrification. The scope of research is expected to focus on themes including safety, cost reduction, performance and recyclability.

Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Cost Effectiveness
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to ensure that energy service providers provide value for money for the consumer.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 12 September 2017

Energy service providers could play an important role in delivering valuable services to consumers including, but not limited to, energy management, energy efficiency improvements and demand side response. The Government will continue to consider the role of energy service providers as the market for services they offer develops.

Q
Asked by Lord Stunell
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Construction: Billing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the report they commissioned from Pye Tait Consulting on cash retentions in the construction industry has been submitted by that firm; and if so, when they intend to publish that report, and what action they plan to take in the light of its recommendations.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 12 September 2017

The Department will be publishing the Pye Tait report, alongside a consultation document on the practice of cash retentions under construction contracts shortly.

The Government will not pre-empt the outcome of the consultation, but will consider the responses to the forthcoming consultation carefully before making decisions about further action in this area.

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