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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Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 15 February (HL5165), what are the greenhouse gas emissions targets, broken down by local authority; and what assessment they have made of progress against each of those targets over the last seven years.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 October 2017

Local Authorities are not mandated to have greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. However, many cities and places have set their own targets following the Paris Agreement. Over 30 places are members of international agreements such as the Covenant of Mayors and, within the UK, over 70 places have now signed up to UK100 with a political commitment to use 100% clean energy by 2050.

The Government has recently announced support for every Local Enterprise Partnership to develop their own energy strategy and we are developing plans to support local places to build the capacity to deliver more local low carbon projects across England over the next two years.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Foreign Investment in UK: National Security
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what checks are in place to monitor the safeguarding of UK national security each time a foreign firm invests in the UK.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 October 2017

Under the Enterprise Act 2002, the Government has powers to intervene in mergers on the grounds of national security. The Act sets out the processes which are followed in such cases.

More generally, the Government considers carefully any national security issues raised by foreign investments on a case by case basis.

The Government published a Green Paper, ‘National Security and Infrastructure Investment Review’, on Tuesday 17 October setting out its review of current powers and how these might be amended in the short, and long, term to ensure national security is protected. The Government welcomes respondents’ views on its proposals and options for reform.

The Green Paper is available on Gov.uk and in the Libraries of the House.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Foreign Investment in UK: National Security
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to introduce a dedicated body with responsibility for scrutinising those foreign investments which may impact on national security.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 20 October 2017

The Government published a Green Paper, ‘National Security and Infrastructure Investment Review’, on Tuesday 17 October setting out its review of current powers and how these might be amended in the short, and long, term to ensure national security is protected. The Government welcomes respondents’ views on its proposals and options for reform.

The Green Paper is available on Gov.uk and in the Libraries of the House.

Q
Asked by Lord Myners
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Financial Reporting Council
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to review the effectiveness of the Financial Reporting Council and its independence from the accounting industry.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 October 2017

As part of its green paper consultation on Corporate Governance Reform, the Government invited suggestions on how the UK’s corporate governance framework could be strengthened and on strengthening the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) ability to monitor and enforce corporate governance reporting. The Government response to the consultation published on 29 August this year summarised the consultation responses and set out its conclusions and proposals which include giving further consideration to whether the FRC has the appropriate powers, resources and status to operate effectively. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working closely with the FRC on these issues. The FRC is required to report formally to the Secretary of State each year and these annual reports are laid before Parliament for review by both Houses.

Asked on: 10 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hurricanes and Tornadoes
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent statements made by the World Meteorological Organization regarding long-term trends in relation to the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 October 2017

The Government has not conducted a specific scientific assessment of the statements by the World Meteorological Organization regarding the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on low-lying Caribbean islands and the USA, and possible links between these storms and human-made climate change.

The mechanics of tropical cyclones and how they interact with our changing climate is extremely complex. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there is a greater than 50% chance that human-induced warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the frequency of intense tropical cyclones in some areas and there is strong evidence that increasing sea temperatures increase the intensity of tropical storms when they develop. Heavier rainfall is also expected as global temperatures rise because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture. Additionally, rising sea levels increase the risk of coastal flooding as hurricanes make landfall.

Asked on: 10 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Research: Finance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of concerns expressed by the UK scientific community regarding future participation in EU funded research projects, what funds will be made available to UK research teams following Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 October 2017

This Government wants the UK to be the go-to place for researchers, innovators and investors across the world. This is why we are increasing research and development investment by £4.7 billion over the period 2017-18 to 2020-21, an increase of around 20% to total government R&D spending, more than any increase in any parliament since 1979.

We would welcome an agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives. On 6 September we published a future partnership paper on collaboration on science and innovation. As part of our ambition for a new deep and special partnership with the EU, recognising our shared interest in maintaining and strengthening research collaboration, the UK will seek an agreement that promotes science and innovation across Europe now and in the future.

While we remain a member of the EU, UK businesses and universities should continue to bid for competitive EU funds, and we will work with the Commission to ensure payment when funds are awarded. The Government will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. This includes awards that are bid for before exit that are successful after exit.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Shares
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of public company share buybacks on the economy.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 19 October 2017

In its response of 29th August to the Corporate Governance Reform green paper consultation, the Government stated that it will take forward its manifesto commitment to commission an examination of the use of share buy-backs by public companies. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will shortly be commissioning research to underpin this work. The research will consider the impact of share buy-backs both on executive remuneration outcomes and on investment by public companies.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Zero Hours Contracts
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the social and economic consequences of restricting zero-hours contracts to students and pensioners.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 18 October 2017

I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave to question UIN HL893 that states that the government has not made an estimate of the social and economic consequences of restricting zero hours contracts to students and pensioners.

The government has not assessed the social and economic consequences of restricting zero hours contracts to students and pensioners. The Matthew Taylor review found that zero hours contracts have a part to play in a modern, flexible labour market and benefit those who cannot or do not want to work in a regular contract.

However, this government shares the concerns regarding flexible work arrangements. That is why in October 2016 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister asked Matthew Taylor to carry out an independent review to consider employment practices and whether they need to change to keep pace with modern business models. We are now considering the report and will respond in full later in the year.

Q
Asked by Lord Empey
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Bombardier: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial support they provided to Bombardier Aircraft Division for the "C" Series aircraft; what was the amount of that support; and when that support was forthcoming, and under what terms.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The UK Government's Repayable Launch Investment of £113.37 million to support Bombardier Aerospace (Shorts) in the design and development of the C Series aircraft wings was notified to the European Commission on 19 December 2008; and was approved on 18 June 2009.


Terms of the repayable launch investment are commercially sensitive.

Grouped Questions: HL1717
Q
Asked by Lord Empey
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Bombardier: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether monies provided by them to Bombardier Aircraft Division for the "C" Series aircraft were examined for compliance with EU state aid rules; and, if so, with what result.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The UK Government's Repayable Launch Investment of £113.37 million to support Bombardier Aerospace (Shorts) in the design and development of the C Series aircraft wings was notified to the European Commission on 19 December 2008; and was approved on 18 June 2009.


Terms of the repayable launch investment are commercially sensitive.

Grouped Questions: HL1716
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Food
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total amount of food waste generated by BEIS offices for each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The total amount of food waste generated by BEIS offices for each of the last five years is shown in the attached table. Entries shaded in grey are estimates.

BEIS food waste statistics (Word Document, 16.03 KB)
Q
Asked on: 10 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Pregnancy: Discrimination
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what if any proposals they have to provide new and expectant mothers with further protections from redundancy; and whether they have any plans to address the use of confidentiality agreements in out of court settlements which prevent women from speaking publicly about their treatment.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The Government’s response to Women and Equalities Select Committee Inquiry into pregnancy and maternity discrimination earlier this year said that we “will consider further and bring forward proposals to ensure that the protections in place for those who are pregnant or returning from maternity leave are sufficient”. We are reviewing whether we need stronger protection against redundancy for pregnant women and women returning from maternity leave and will consult on options in due course.

The Government has no plans to address the use of confidentiality agreements. Employees and employers need the freedom to reach a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement, so the Government does not want to impose further constraints on the provisions of settlement agreements.

Q
Asked on: 10 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business: Billing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 29 June (HL53), stating that the Payment Practices Reporting online service will be available for users to begin reporting their payment practices from October, whether that online service has yet been launched and advertised; and out of the estimated 15,200 businesses in scope to comply with the payment practices and performance reporting requirements, how many have so far been issued an invitation to use the service.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 17 October 2017

The Payment Practices Reporting online service has been launched on the GOV.UK website, and is now available to all businesses in scope of the requirements without the need for an invitation. The Department is now working to raise awareness of the existence of the service, including by contacting business representative bodies. Before the service was launched, 350 invitations were issued. The Department does not hold information on how many of these invitations were issued to businesses in scope of the requirement.

Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 02 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Rented Housing: Energy
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 Rooker
Asked on: 11 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Congenital Abnormalities: Research
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what Government-sponsored research is currently under way in respect of neural tube defect births.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 23 October 2017

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), through its Clinical Research Network, is supporting two studies relating to neural tube defects:

  1. Database Development for Newborn Screening Disorders

A study to develop a genotype-phenotype correlative database for six Newborn Screening Disorders by performing Next Generation DNA Sequencing on a small panel of genes and collecting medical record information from screen positive and clinically affected patients.

  1. Prevention of Neural Tube Defects by Inositol (PONTI)

The study is intended to address the question of whether combined treatment folic acid and inositol is more effective at preventing neural tube defects than folic acid alone.

Research relating to neural tube defect births is also be supported through the Research Councils. Examples of current and recent projects supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) include:

  • Understanding the role of the Glycine Cleavage System in Neural Tube Defects

This project studies a group of proteins involved in folate handling and looks at their possible involvement in neural tube defects.

  • Investigating the effect of folic acid on the neural tube defect methylome

In many cases, neural tube defects (NTDs) are preventable by the mother taking periconceptional supplements of folic acid. This study is designed to generate a better understanding of the processes of normal and abnormal neural tube development and how folic acid interacts with this.

As Government funders of health research, neither the NIHR nor the MRC allocate funding for specific disease areas. The level of research spend in a particular area, such as neural tube defects, is driven by factors including scientific potential and the number and scale of successful funding applications. MRC welcomes high quality applications in any disease area.

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.

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