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 Mike Hill
(Hartlepool)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: EU Law
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his oral contribution of 20 July 2017, HC Deb col 627, if he will ensure that Article 13 is carried over into UK law.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill will convert the existing body of direct EU animal welfare laws to become UK laws. Most of these EU laws relate to farmed animals and many were passed after Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) came into effect.

Article 13 of the TFEU created a qualified obligation on the EU and EU Member States “to have full regard to the welfare of animals [as they are sentient beings]” when formulating and implementing certain EU laws.

We are exploring how the ‘animal sentience’ principle of Article 13 can continue to be reflected in the UK when we leave the EU. The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and our ambition is not only to maintain but enhance these standards.

Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Animal Breeding
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what information his Department holds on the number of dog breeding premises operating without a licence.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

Defra does not hold official statistics on the number of dog breeders and pet shops operating without a licence. Defra is currently in the process of developing a new single animal activities licensing regime. The regulations will be laid in Parliament before they come into force next year. The new regime will reduce the threshold by which people will need a dog breeding licence from five litters or more per year to three litters or more per year. This should result in more dog breeders requiring a licence. The new regime will make it clear for local authorities which individual activities need to be licensed.

Grouped Questions: 106736
Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pets: Shops
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to introduce a standardised form of inspection for pet shops and dog breeders.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

Defra is currently in the process of developing a new single animal activities licensing regime. The regulations will be laid in Parliament before they come into force next year. Pet shops and dog breeders will need to meet statutory minimum welfare standards which reflect the welfare requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Local authorities will need to have regard to supporting statutory guidance to help them apply the standards.

Q
Asked by Chris Evans
(Islwyn)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pets: Shops
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of unlicensed (a) dog breeding and (b) pet shops in the UK.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

Defra does not hold official statistics on the number of dog breeders and pet shops operating without a licence. Defra is currently in the process of developing a new single animal activities licensing regime. The regulations will be laid in Parliament before they come into force next year. The new regime will reduce the threshold by which people will need a dog breeding licence from five litters or more per year to three litters or more per year. This should result in more dog breeders requiring a licence. The new regime will make it clear for local authorities which individual activities need to be licensed.

Grouped Questions: 106512
Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Convictions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many people have been convicted of animal cruelty in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

The number of offenders found guilty of offences under Sections 4 to 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, in England and Wales, from 2012 to 2016, can be viewed in the table below:

Offenders found guilty at all courts of animal cruelty offences (1), England and Wales, 2012 to 2016 (2)(3)

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

1,132

1,022

814

622

585

  1. Defined as Sections 4-8 Animal Welfare Act 2006

  2. The figures given in the table relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

  3. Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services - Ministry of Justice.

Q
Asked by Chris Evans
(Islwyn)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Prosecutions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many investigations into unlicensed (a) dog breeding and (b) pet shops have led to a prosecution in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

Twenty defendants were proceeded against at magistrates’ courts for offences under Breeding and Sale of Dogs Act from 2012 to 2016. Of these, one defendant is listed as being a pet shop.

Twenty-four defendants were proceeded against for offences related to failing to comply with the conditions of a pet shop licence.

These figures relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same penalty is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Q
(South East Cornwall)
Asked on: 18 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prohibit the sale and keeping of primates as pets; and whether the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately-Kept Non-Human Primates will be included in his Department's review of statutory animal welfare codes.
Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of puppies being smuggled illegally into the UK.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 17 October 2017

We take the issue of illegal trafficking of puppies very seriously, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are gathering intelligence to help us understand the size of the problem regarding puppy smuggling.

Defra and APHA work constructively with other government agencies and charities to share intelligence on illegal movements of pet animals. APHA has established an intelligence team which will gather data, intelligence and information on illegal movement of dogs and puppies and, as appropriate, share with enforcement bodies.

APHA works in partnership with the Dogs Trust and Kent County Council to identify and seize dogs and puppies which were not compliant with the requirements as part of a pilot project at Dover responding to intelligence on potential non-compliance. Approximately 600 puppies have been seized and taken into quarantine since the initiative began in December 2015.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Environment Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations his Department has made to China on retaining habitats for animals on land in the seas around that country and in forests.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 17 October 2017

There have been no recent discussions between the Foreign Secretary and his Chinese counterpart on retaining animal habitats in and around China. However our Embassy in Beijing is in regular discussions with the Chinese Government and local organisations regarding environmental issues and the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

Q
(Bedford)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Transport
Railways: Electrification
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to modify overhead electrification equipment between Bedford and London.
A
Answered by: Paul Maynard
Answered on: 17 October 2017

We are developing plans to adjust the Overhead Line Equipment between Bedford and London in order to enable the new trains coming into service on the Midland Main Line from 2022 to run at the improved line speeds.

Q
Asked by Scott Mann
(North Cornwall)
Asked on: 10 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Deer and Squirrels: Cornwall
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to control deer and grey squirrel populations in Cornwall.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 17 October 2017

While the government and its partner organisations have a role to play in providing the right framework to support sustainable management of deer, primary responsibility for their management lies with individual landowners and managers, and local communities. Where deer are causing economic or environmental damage or representing a health and safety risk, landowners and occupiers are encouraged to participate in the running of local deer management groups, or to set one up where a group does not already exist. These groups comprise all those who have an interest in a particular locality and, where necessary, may involve a managed cull to reduce population densities.

On the question of grey squirrels the government is committed to working with land owners and other organisations as part of its strategy to support targeted grey squirrel control in the UK. Defra and the devolved administrations are signatories to the UK Squirrel Accord, which aims to promote a coordinated approach to controlling grey squirrels and securing the future of our red squirrels and woodlands. Working as part of the UK Squirrel Accord enables the government to deliver on its grey squirrel action plan for England announced by the Forestry Commission in December 2014. As part of the government’s long term strategy for controlling grey squirrel populations, Defra has provided funding to the Animal and Plant Health Agency to explore the potential for developing a fertility control method for grey squirrels.

Q
Asked by Oliver Dowden
(Hertsmere)
Asked on: 06 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Game: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to enforce the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 16 October 2017

The welfare of gamebirds is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or to fail to provide an animal with its welfare needs. The statutory Gamebird code, which was made under the 2006 Act, provides additional protection and provides keepers with guidance on how to meet the welfare needs of their gamebirds. Failure to follow the code's recommendations can be used in evidence in court to support a welfare prosecution. Inspectors from theAnimal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will refer to the code when they have been asked to inspect a game farm. When required APHA advise farmers on achieving compliance and, if appropriate, legal action will be taken.

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: 10 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beavers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which Minister of his Department is responsible for taking decisions to approve or reject specific proposals for projects to reintroduce beavers into the UK.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Under section 78 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, the Secretary of State has authorised Natural England to act on his behalf to determine applications for licences to release species, including the European beaver, subject to the controls in section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The Secretary of State may, as he sees fit, instruct Natural England in respect to the discharge of this function and he may also choose to make the final determination of a licence himself.

There is a Forestry Commission proposal to release beavers into a fenced enclosure in the Forest of Dean near Lydbrook. This project would require a conditional licence allowing release into a secure enclosure. An application for a licence would need to be submitted to Natural England to determine, and the evidence required would include whether there are appropriate measures in place to keep the beavers securely and to recapture any animals that should escape.

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: 10 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beavers: Forest of Dean
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his Department's policy is on the proposal for the reintroduction of beavers to the Forest of Dean near Lydbrook; which Minister of his Department is responsible for making a decision on that project; when such a decision will be made; whether that project requires approval by the Forestry Commission; whether such approval has been given; and what precise scientific evidence his Department will use to reach a decision on that matter.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Under section 78 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, the Secretary of State has authorised Natural England to act on his behalf to determine applications for licences to release species, including the European beaver, subject to the controls in section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The Secretary of State may, as he sees fit, instruct Natural England in respect to the discharge of this function and he may also choose to make the final determination of a licence himself.

There is a Forestry Commission proposal to release beavers into a fenced enclosure in the Forest of Dean near Lydbrook. This project would require a conditional licence allowing release into a secure enclosure. An application for a licence would need to be submitted to Natural England to determine, and the evidence required would include whether there are appropriate measures in place to keep the beavers securely and to recapture any animals that should escape.

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: 10 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beavers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his policy is on the reintroduction of beavers to the UK.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 16 October 2017

Under section 78 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, the Secretary of State has authorised Natural England to act on his behalf to determine applications for licences to release species, including the European beaver, subject to the controls in section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The Secretary of State may, as he sees fit, instruct Natural England in respect to the discharge of this function and he may also choose to make the final determination of a licence himself.

There is a Forestry Commission proposal to release beavers into a fenced enclosure in the Forest of Dean near Lydbrook. This project would require a conditional licence allowing release into a secure enclosure. An application for a licence would need to be submitted to Natural England to determine, and the evidence required would include whether there are appropriate measures in place to keep the beavers securely and to recapture any animals that should escape.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 16 October 2017
Home Office
Hunting: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many licences have been issued under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 for research involving (a) deer and (b) registered stag hunts in each of the last five years.
Q
Asked by Chris Green
(Bolton West)
Asked on: 16 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare: Bolton
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many people in Bolton were found guilty of animal cruelty in each of the last three years.
Q
(Coventry South)
[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: 09 October 2017
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Prices
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the statutory obligation on Ofgem to consult with energy firms on an energy price cap across standard variable tariffs on the time taken to implement such a cap.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 13 October 2017
Holding answer received on 12 October 2017

The draft Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill was published for pre-legislative scrutiny on the 12th October 2017. Clause 2 (3) of the draft Bill requires Ofgem to consult certain stakeholders on the methodology. Clause 1 of the draft Bill sets out a requirement for Ofgem to modify the standard licence condition to impose a cap as soon as practicable after the Act is passed.

Q
Asked by Mr Bob Seely
(Isle of Wight)
Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Transport
South Western Rail Franchise: Standards
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what obligations and timescales he has placed on the new South Western Railway under its franchise agreement on the introduction of faster trains from London Waterloo to (a) Portsmouth and (b) Southampton.
A
Answered by: Paul Maynard
Answered on: 12 October 2017

The Train Service Specification is part of the Franchise Agreement and will see a recasting of the South Western timetables, in December 2018 and December 2020. December 2018 will see the introduction of the modified fleet of Class 442 trains on the Portsmouth Direct services between London Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour. While the contracted maximum journey times for off-peak services to both Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central are consistent with current fastest journey times, we are expecting to see journey time improvements arising from the December 2018 Timetable re-cast. South Western Railway, will be carrying out consultation with Stakeholders on the December 2018 timetable in the coming months.

Q
(Bristol East)
[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: 06 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of moving enforcement responsibilities from carriers to Government agencies in order to better tackle the illegal importation of puppies via the Pet Travel Scheme.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 11 October 2017

Defra takes the issue of the illegal importation of puppies and abuse of the pet travel scheme seriously. All pet animals entering Great Britain on approved routes under European Union Pet Travel Scheme are subject to documentary and identity checks. These are performed by carrier’s staff or checkers acting on their behalf. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) train and appoint carriers and pet animal checkers. APHA also undertake random audits to assess the effectiveness of the carriers’ activities. APHA work closely with carriers and their pet animal checkers to address any issues identified and provide additional training as required.

Defra is currently reviewing the operation of the Pet Travel Scheme in England and review includes the pet checking and carrier approval process. As part of the review the Department held a public consultation during the autumn of 2016. We continuing to gather evidence in preparation for putting the review report to independent scrutiny later in the year.

Since December 2015 APHA Port of Dover staff have been working in partnership with transport carriers and the Dogs Trust to identify, seize and quarantine underage puppies illegally transported into the country.

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