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 2016-17 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 Alex Salmond
(Gordon)
Asked on: 24 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Sales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Government will take steps to ensure that puppies are not sold without their mothers being present.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 27 April 2017

The Government set out its position on this and other recommendations in its response, which was published in February, to the review by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, entitled Animal Welfare in England: Domestic Pets.

Q
Asked by Diana Johnson
(Kingston upon Hull North)
[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: 24 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Sales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make an assessment of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's proposals of February 2017 to (a) ban sales of puppies through third party intermediaries, (b) ensure all dog purchases are traceable through a robust licensing system and (c) place greater legal restrictions on online puppy sales.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 27 April 2017

The Government set out its position on these and other recommendations in its response, which was published in February, to the review by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, entitled Animal Welfare in England: Domestic Pets.

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
Asked on: 25 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make it her priority to extend the maximum sentence which the courts can impose for offences involving animal cruelty.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 27 April 2017

The maximum penalties for animal welfare offences are kept under review and Defra has been in regular discussion with the Ministry of Justice on appropriate sentencing levels. The Sentencing Council recently published revised magistrates’ court sentencing guidelines with the aim of ensuring that the most serious cases of animal cruelty receive appropriately severe penalties within the available maximum penalty.

Q
(Bristol East)
Asked on: 19 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Hormone Treatments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what research her Department has conducted into the effect of the use of pregnant mare serum gonadotropin on the (a) health and (b) welfare of horses, pigs, cows and sheep.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 26 April 2017

As part of the veterinary medicines approval process, products containing pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG) have been assessed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) against European standards for quality, safety and efficacy to determine the benefits of the product to the animals being treated.

This assessment also takes account of any potential risks to the environment, to the animals being treated, to people who administer the medicine and to those who may consume produce from treated animals. A product is only granted an authorisation if the benefits of the product outweigh its risks.

The government has not commissioned or funded any research into the effect of the use of PMSG on either the health or welfare of horses, pigs, cows or sheep.

In late January this year, in light of the media reports concerning the welfare of animals used during the production of PMSG, the VMD contacted all three companies holding UK Marketing Authorisations for these products. They all provided written assurances that they have systems in place to safeguard animal welfare in their supply chains.

Q
(Rutherglen and Hamilton West)
Asked on: 19 April 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dogs: Meat
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with (a) his global counterparts and (b) animal rights groups on cruelty in the global dog meat trade; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 26 April 2017

I met with animal rights activists earlier this year to discuss this issue and my officials are in ongoing discussions with them to identify how to improve animal welfare and raise awareness of the cruelty and potential health implications of the global dog meat trade.

The consumption of dog meat is legal in many countries, and the UK has no grounds to intervene or take trade measures to prevent this. As such, I have not raised the matter with my global counterparts. However, the British Ambassador in Seoul has raised the issue with the Korean authorities, and officials from the British Embassy in Seoul have accompanied non-government organisations on a dog farm visit. Officials have also met with police representatives from China to discuss their implementation of animal welfare regulations.

As I stated in the Westminster Hall Debate on 12 September 2016, it is encouraging that in countries where dog meat is consumed there are signs that attitudes are changing.

Q
Asked by Angela Smith
(Penistone and Stocksbridge)
Asked on: 21 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Slaughterhouses: CCTV
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to encourage voluntary take-up of CCTV in equine slaughterhouses.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 26 April 2017

In February 2015, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) published an independent assessment of the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses which concluded that CCTV can offer real benefits, particularly to slaughterhouse operators, but that it cannot replace the need for businesses to have proper monitoring procedures in place.

The vast majority of horses are slaughtered in slaughterhouses in England which have CCTV installed for welfare purposes, although cameras may not be present in all areas. Official Veterinarians also have the power to seize CCTV footage if they suspect that welfare standards are not being met.

Defra continues to encourage slaughterhouses to install CCTV in all areas on a voluntary basis in order to realise the benefits to animal welfare set out in the FAWC report.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 26 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Microplastics
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 18 April 2017 to Question 69988, whether her Department plans to make an assessment of the effect of microplastics on the welfare of land animals.
Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Procurement
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 27 February 2017 to Question 64997, on procurement, what estimate she has made of the total budget for managing procurement in each year since 2010.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 25 April 2017

The budget for Core Defra’s procurement function for each of the financial years from 2010-11 is shown below.

£000

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Budget

4,475

3,854

3,338

3,151

2,599

4,060

3,560

A corporate services transformation programme is ongoing within Defra. The first stage of this transformation for procurement saw teams from Animal & Plant Health Agency, Natural England and Marine Maritime Organisation transferred into Defra on 1st October 2014. This meant a 57% increase in headcount in core Defra, and resulted in increased procurement budgets for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Slaughterhouses: Cattle
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department collates information on the number of pregnant cows slaughtered annually.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 25 April 2017

The Department does not collate information on the number of pregnant cows slaughtered annually.

The Government encourages the highest standards of welfare at both slaughter and during transport. It is illegal under the welfare in transport legislation to transport any pregnant animal where more than 90% of the gestation period has elapsed; this includes transporting pregnant animals to slaughterhouses. For TB infected cattle, most are removed from farms within 10 working days of disclosure. However, since September 2015 owners of heavily pregnant TB affected cows have had the option of keeping the animal on farm until it has calved, up to a maximum of 28 days.

The slaughter of pregnant animals is not itself currently covered by additional specific welfare requirements. The European Food Safety Authority is due to release a scientific report on this issue in the near future.

Grouped Questions: 70599
Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Slaughterhouses: Cattle
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what her Department's policy is on the slaughter of pregnant cows.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 25 April 2017

The Department does not collate information on the number of pregnant cows slaughtered annually.

The Government encourages the highest standards of welfare at both slaughter and during transport. It is illegal under the welfare in transport legislation to transport any pregnant animal where more than 90% of the gestation period has elapsed; this includes transporting pregnant animals to slaughterhouses. For TB infected cattle, most are removed from farms within 10 working days of disclosure. However, since September 2015 owners of heavily pregnant TB affected cows have had the option of keeping the animal on farm until it has calved, up to a maximum of 28 days.

The slaughter of pregnant animals is not itself currently covered by additional specific welfare requirements. The European Food Safety Authority is due to release a scientific report on this issue in the near future.

Grouped Questions: 70598
Q
Asked by Chris Evans
(Islwyn)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Minister of State of 30 March 2017, Official Report, column 480-2, on animal welfare, whether she plans to strengthen legislation on animal cruelty.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 25 April 2017

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) provides clear offences relating to animal cruelty. One strength of the 2006 Act is that anyone can take out a prosecution. This has been a powerful tool in promoting animal welfare. In 2015, 936 people were sentenced for animal cruelty offences under the 2006 Act, of which 91 were given an immediate custodial sentence.

Q
Asked by Chris Evans
(Islwyn)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the average sentence served has been by people convicted of animal cruelty in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 25 April 2017

The table below provides the average custodial sentence length for offences under s4 (causing unnecessary suffering) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Average custodial sentence length (months)

3.1

3.4

3.5

3.1

3.3

Q
Asked by Corri Wilson
(Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Elephants: Conservation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how the Government intends to secure a long-term future for wild elephants and their natural habitats.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 24 April 2017

The Government works with a range of governments and international organisations to conserve endangered species, including elephants, through various fora, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). I attended the CITES Conference of Parties in 2016 where the UK played a major role in achieving strong outcomes for elephants, that will help ensure their survival in the wild.

Additionally, the Darwin Initiative is a UK Government grant scheme focussed on preserving animal and plant species and their habitats. This has recently funded a project in Mali that aims to protect elephants by halting and reversing degradation, and habitat loss.

Poaching and trafficking pose a major threat to elephants and other species and demand coordinated international action. The UK is leading the global response to tackling the illegal wildlife trade, and last year we supported Vietnam to host a third successful high level conference on the issue, where new actions to deliver on the commitments agreed at the previous London and Botswana conferences in 2014 and 2015 were secured.

At the conference we announced an additional £13million for tackling the illegal wildlife trade, doubling our existing investment. This funding will support a range of initiatives, including British military training for anti-poaching rangers in key African states and financial support for global action by Interpol and other international organisations involved in the fight against wildlife crime.

Q
Asked by Chris Evans
(Islwyn)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Animal Breeding
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Minister of State of 30 March 2017, Official Report, column 480-2, on animal welfare, whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals prohibiting puppy farms.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 24 April 2017

Commercial dog breeders already require a licence from their local authority in order to operate. The Government has reviewed these controls and has proposed that all licensed dog breeders comply with up to date animal welfare standards. We have also proposed to lower the threshold by which dog breeders will need a licence to three litters a year. Anyone breaching animal welfare standards risks having their licence revoked.

Q
(Bristol East)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Hormone Treatments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence her Department has collected on prevalence of the use of pregnant mares' serum gonadotropin in (a) British farms and (b) meat sold in the UK.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 24 April 2017

Usage data for veterinary medicines is not collected and recorded on a national basis. The Government however does collect sales data for all medicines sold in the UK. These data are received from the companies marketing the products at intervals of up to 3 years.

According to the sales data held by the Government, it is estimated that, between the years 2010 and 2015 (the last year for which full sales data for these products is currently available) approximately 19,000 animals each year (across the 4 authorised species of cattle, pigs, sheep and dogs) were treated with products containing pregnant mares’ serum gonadotrophin (PMSG).

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) has also assessed PMSG for its suitability for use in food producing animals and concluded that PMSG offers no risk to the consumer.

Q
(Bristol East)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Hormone Treatments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effects of the use of pregnant mares' serum gonadotropin in meat production on human health.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 24 April 2017

In order to market a veterinary medicine in the UK, an application must be submitted to the Government to obtain a marketing authorisation. All applications are scientifically assessed against European standards for quality, safety and efficacy to determine the benefits of the product.

This assessment also takes account of any potential risks to the environment, to animals, to people who administer the medicine and to those who may consume produce from treated animals. A product is only granted an authorisation if the benefits of the product outweigh its risks.

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) has also assessed pregnant mares’ serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) for its suitability for use in food producing animals and concluded that PMSG offers no risk to the consumer.

Q
(Bridgend)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Justice and the Home Secretary on increasing the maximum custodial sentence for acts of animal cruelty to five years imprisonment; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 24 April 2017

Ministers and officials in Defra have had regular dialogue with Ministers and officials in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice. The issue of sentencing was discussed most recently in the context of two Private Members Bills tabled on this issue.

Q
Asked by Sammy Wilson
(East Antrim)
Asked on: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department plans to increase the maximum custodial sentence for the most serious acts of animal cruelty to five years imprisonment in England and Wales.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 21 April 2017

The maximum penalties for animal welfare offences are kept under review and Defra is in regular discussion with the Ministry of Justice on appropriate sentencing levels. The Sentencing Council recently published revised magistrates’ court sentencing guidelines with the aim of ensuring that the most serious cases of animal cruelty receive appropriately severe penalties within the available maximum penalty.

Q
(Orkney and Shetland)
[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: 13 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 22 March 2017 to Question 66537, for what reason the numbers of dogs imported into the UK from each origin country, as presented in Annex A, do not add up to the number recorded on APHA's system of dogs entering the UK non-commercially under the Pets Travel Scheme, as stated in the Answer of 30 January 2017 to Question 62238.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 20 April 2017

Currently, the Pets Database holds information on pet movements into GB on approved routes gathered by transport companies. Since mid-2015 the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has been piloting a parallel system to establish the level of accuracy of data available from the Pets Database. This has identified that more dogs are travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme than previously indicated by the Pets Database data, and this number was presented in PQ62238. Based on this finding, APHA is now working on a new permanent system to capture accurately all the required data without placing an unrealistic burden on carriers.

The information that APHA has provided in response to PQ66537 is a true reflection of the information that is held on the Pets Database, as supplied by third parties.

Q
Asked by Calum Kerr
(Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)
[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: 13 April 2017
Department of Health
European Food Safety Authority
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions he has had with representatives of the European Food Safety Authority on its future remit in the UK.
A
Answered by: David Mowat
Answered on: 20 April 2017

The Government has not yet had any discussions with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on its future remit in the United Kingdom. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Food Standard Agency and other Government Departments/bodies currently work with the EFSA on a range of issues including public health, food safety, plant and animal health and welfare. Government departments are working together to ensure that we will continue to have a collaborative relationship with the EFSA post-exit and that UK risk management decisions will continue to be based on robust scientific evidence.

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