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 Lord Moonie
Asked on: 24 April 2017
HM Treasury
Chewing Gum: Taxation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the introduction of a tax on chewing gum to be used to fund local authority clean-up programmes for discarded gum.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 27 April 2017

The Government published the Litter Strategy for England on 10 April. The Strategy sets out a range of measures to tackle litter, which includes chewing gum, and littering behaviour.

HM Treasury has not given consideration to the introduction of a tax on chewing gum.

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)
[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
Marine Environment: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 3 March 2017 to Question 65619, on marine litter, by when she plans to make a decision on whether the UK will participate in the UN Clean Seas global campaign on marine litter; and if the Government will join that campaign ahead of the UN Oceans Conference on 5 to 9 June 2017.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 20 April 2017

The UK Government has, and continues to, put in place a range of measures to protect the marine environment from marine litter. We support the development of initiatives by other countries and organisations where they are consistent with our aims. We will make a decision as to whether to formally participate in this campaign in due course. We are not yet able to specify a date by which this decision will be made.

Q
(Mid Sussex)
[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 Transport
A23: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the collection of litter takes place on the A23 from Crawley to Brighton; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mr John Hayes
Answered on: 20 April 2017

In April, the Government released the ‘Litter Strategy for England’[1], outlining an initiative to identify and target the 25 top litter ‘hotspots’ on the strategic road network and establishing a working group on roadside litter. This includes representatives from local councils, Highways England, road users and others, to explore and understand the practical barriers to keeping all our roadsides clear of litter, and to help identify and promote best-practice in roadside litter prevention.

Litter collection on the A23 between Crawley and Brighton is the responsibility of Mid Sussex District Council and Brighton & Hove City Council. They have an obligation to ensure litter is collected. Nevertheless, Highways England is engaging with local authorities, including these Councils, on a more collaborative approach to litter clearance.

This builds upon Highways England’s work, as operator of the strategic road network, in sending out a four-weekly programme to notify local authorities of their routine maintenance works on trunk roads, which can help councils to coordinate their litter collections.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/litter-strategy-for-england

Q
[I]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that the member concerned has a relevant registered interest.

Asked on: 04 April 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Urban Areas: Pests
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last reviewed (1) the proliferation of pests in urban areas, and (2) the ability of local authorities to deal with those pests.
A
Answered on: 12 April 2017

The proliferation of pests in urban areas has not been reviewed by central Government, however there is a range of legislation in place to support local authorities in controlling urban pests.

Pest control is the responsibility of the owner or occupier of the property where the problem occurs. Where this is the local authority, they have the same powers to control pests as any other owner or occupier.

There is a range of legislation in place to support local authorities in managing rodent infestation and statutory nuisances, such as litter and refuse, where these are attracting pests.

The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 obliges local authorities to ensure that their districts are kept, as far as is practicable, free of rats and mice.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Animal Breeding
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make it her policy to introduce legislation reducing the maximum number of dog litters bred for sale from four to two a year.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 21 March 2017

Last month, the Government published its Next Steps document which set out proposals for modernising the licensing of the breeding and selling of dogs in England. The Government proposes that anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of dogs in a twelve month period will need a licence. The majority of responses to our earlier consultation supported this proposal which strikes the right balance between being reasonable to enforce, providing a proportionate response and helping to target regulatory effort on those breeders producing dogs on a commercial basis.

Q
(Ribble Valley)
[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: 14 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Sustainable Development
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what actions she plans to recommend to the High-Level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 in New York on 5 to 9 June 2017.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 20 March 2017

Working with the European Union and other Member States we will use this conference to reiterate our commitment to deliver healthy and productive oceans. To achieve this we will press for continued collaboration through the use of existing regional organisations, such as Regional Seas Conventions and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. We will also aim to secure progress on marine pollution (including marine litter), implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and on a new internationally legally binding instrument under the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea.

This will cover measures such as area based management tools (including marine protected areas), environmental impact assessments, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, and marine genetic resources including questions on the sharing of benefits.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 13 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans her Department has to reduce roadside littering; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 16 March 2017

In December 2015, the Government announced that it would develop a Litter Strategy for England. We want to be ambitious: our goal is to achieve a substantial reduction in litter and littering in England, ensuring that our communities, natural landscape, roads and highways are free of litter.

The Litter Strategy for England will focus on three key themes: education and awareness; improving enforcement; and better cleansing and litter infrastructure. These will be backed up by specific actions under each objective.

To help us shape the Strategy we have established a Litter Advisory Group which includes representatives from local government, campaign groups and independent experts, as well as voices from the packaging and fast-food industries. Highways England and Connect Plus (which manages the M25 on behalf of Highways England) are also members.

In connection with the Strategy, we have also established a specialist working group on roadside litter, which will consider means to address the practical barriers to keeping our roadsides clear of litter, including issues relating to both cleaning and litter-prevention.

Q
(Romford)
[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 March 2017
Department of Health
Microplastics: Health Hazards
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the Answer of 8 March 2017 to Question 67201, if his Department will make an assessment of the implications of micropastics entering the marine environment for human health.
A
Answered by: Nicola Blackwood
Answered on: 16 March 2017

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs monitors levels of marine litter, including microplastics, both in the sea and along our coastlines to improve understanding of the levels and impacts of marine litter.

Public Health England are committed to keeping emerging evidence under review but are not currently planning to conduct an assessment of the implications of microplastics entering the marine environment for human health.

Q
(Romford)
[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: 08 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Microplastics
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of microplastics entering the marine environment on (a) wild and (b) non-wild animal welfare.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 13 March 2017

We have not made any assessment of the effect of microplastics entering the marine environment on animal welfare. We have funded a study that demonstrated that microplastics can cause harm to marine animals by having an impact on their digestive systems and exposing them to chemicals. In addition we monitor levels of marine litter, including microplastics, both in the sea and along our coastlines to improve our understanding of the levels and impacts of marine litter.

Q
(Romford)
[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: 08 March 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Waste
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans her Department has to reduce waste and litter entering the marine environment across the UK.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 13 March 2017

We intend to publish the new national Litter Strategy for England this year. We have worked with a range of stakeholders to develop the strategy, including businesses and other organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society. This will build on the existing measures set out in the UK Marine Strategy that contribute to preventing waste and litter entering the marine environment.

Q
Asked by Grant Shapps
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Asked on: 01 March 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Litter: Fines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what representations his Department has received on the levels of fines issued by local authorities to residents for litter-related offences.
A
Answered by: Mr Marcus Jones
Answered on: 10 March 2017

We have been working with a range of key partners including councils and businesses to develop England’s first ever Litter Strategy. The Litter Strategy for England will focus on three key themes: education and awareness; improving enforcement; and better cleansing and litter infrastructure. These will be backed up by specific actions under each objective, including delivery of the Government's Manifesto commitment to “review the case for increasing fixed penalty notice (FPN) fines for littering”. We will consult on this soon.

Asked on: 22 February 2017
Department for Transport
M11: Litter
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the state of litter collection on the M11 motorway.
A
Answered on: 07 March 2017

I understand that Highways England’s assessment litter collection on the M11 is that it meets their obligations under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The M11 is inspected weekly and where excessive litter has accumulated, picking is quickly carried out to ensure that Highways England remains compliant with the current requirements of the Act. However, as part of a new initiative, Highways England will be identifying areas where litter is most prominent; and will be dedicating resources to tackle these areas. The M11 near Junction 6 has been identified as one of these areas; and the operational team has been charged with ensuring a lasting improvement to this area.

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: 27 February 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Government will participate in the UN Clean Seas global campaign on marine litter.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 02 March 2017

We have yet to decide whether to formally participate in this campaign. Our proposals, however, to ban the use of microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products as well as our wider approach to addressing marine litter are consistent with the aims of the campaign.

Q
Asked by Grant Shapps
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Asked on: 17 February 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Litter: Fines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the annual value of fines received by local authorities for litter-related offences.
A
Answered by: Mr Marcus Jones
Answered on: 27 February 2017

Government does not collect this information.

Q
Asked by Mrs Anne Main
(St Albans)
Asked on: 23 January 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the (a) environmental effect and (b) cost to the public purse of littering and fly tipping on (i) beaches, (ii) marine life, (iii) farms and (iv) urban areas.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 30 January 2017

We have made no specific assessment of the environmental effects of litter and fly-tipping, nor of the costs of clearing litter and fly-tipped waste in these areas. Data on local government spending, including on street cleansing (which includes tackling litter and fly-tipping) can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-revenue-expenditure-and-financing .

The cost of litter clearance is not recorded separately: the figures reported for spending on street cleansing also include spending on clearing fly-tipped waste, and on activities which would be required even if all litter was disposed of appropriately (such as sweeping up fallen leaves, or emptying public bins). We estimate the annual cost to local government of clearing litter in England runs to hundreds of millions of pounds.

The UK Marine Strategy Part One, published in 2012, presented an initial assessment of the state of UK seas. An updated assessment of the state of our seas is currently being prepared. Defra conducts monitoring of litter on beaches, in the water column and on the seafloor. We consider that the best way to address both the environmental and economic impact is to prevent litter entering the marine environment in the first place. The UK Marine Strategy Part Three, published in 2015, sets out a comprehensive set of actions we are taking to address litter in the marine environment.

Data on fly-tipping for England is published at:

www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fly-tipping-in-england.

This includes information on the cost to local authorities of clearing fly-tipped waste and of taking enforcement actions against fly-tipping.

Q
Asked by Mrs Anne Main
(St Albans)
Asked on: 24 January 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the (a) ten types of item most commonly discarded as litter and (b) ten areas in which littering and fly-tipping are most prevalent in England.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 30 January 2017

Assessments of the composition of litter vary, depending on the methodology used to sample sites and to categorise the litter found there. The Local Environmental Quality Survey of England (LEQSE) was carried out by Keep Britain Tidy on behalf of Defra from 2001-2015. It provided information on the overall cleanliness of the country by looking at indicators of local environmental quality including littering, graffiti and fly-posting. This survey assesses the prevalence of types of litter but does not count the number of items of each type that were found.

The 2014/15 survey found that the top ten types of litter found on the highest percentage of sites were:

  1. Smokers’ materials
  2. Confectionery packs
  3. Non-alcoholic drinks-related
  4. Fast-food related
  5. Snack packs (packaging associated with pre-prepared snack food)
  6. Other packaging
  7. Alcoholic drinks-related
  8. Paper tissues
  9. Vehicle parts
  10. Discarded food/drink

We have made no specific assessment of the areas in which littering is most prevalent. The 2013/14 LEQSE report includes some assessment of regional variations in local environmental quality, although the differences found between regions were not statistically significant. The LEQSE reports for 2013/14 and 2014/15 can be found online at: http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/leqse/1611

Data on fly-tipping for England is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fly-tipping-in-england.

This includes information on the cost to local authorities of clearing fly-tipped waste and of taking enforcement action against fly-tipping. The 2015/16 fly tipping data for England is expected to be published in March. The actual publication date will be confirmed shortly and will be available via the ONS website: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics.

Q
Asked by Julie Elliott
(Sunderland Central)
Asked on: 19 January 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of a reduction in local government funding on litter and fly tipping.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 27 January 2017

The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement was announced on 15 December. This is the second year of a four year settlement where local authority core spending power is set to increase from £44.5 billion in 2015-16 to £44.7 billion in 2019-20. Councils in England will receive more than £200 billion for local services over the lifetime of this Parliament.

In December 2015, the Government announced that it would develop a Litter Strategy for England. We want to be ambitious: our goal is to achieve a substantial reduction in litter and littering in England, ensuring that our communities, natural landscape, roads and highways are free of litter.

We are committed to tackling fly-tipping and, as set out in the Government’s manifesto, have given local councils the power to issue fixed penalty notices for small-scale fly-tipping. These new enforcement tools have been available to councils since May 2016, providing them with an alternative to prosecutions and assisting them in taking a proportionate enforcement response. This builds on previous action to tackle fly-tipping.

The presence of litter or fly-tipped waste in the area can put off potential customers and investors. It will therefore be in local authorities’ interests to keep their communities consistently clean to support a thriving local economy. The Government believes that local authorities are best placed to decide how best to meet their statutory duty to keep their relevant land clear of litter and refuse, and how to prioritise this against other local services.

Q
Asked by Julie Elliott
(Sunderland Central)
Asked on: 19 January 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to reduce litter and fly tipping.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 27 January 2017

The Government is developing a Litter Strategy for England. We want to be ambitious: our goal is to achieve a substantial reduction in litter and littering in England, ensuring that our communities, natural landscape, roads and highways are free of litter.

The Litter Strategy for England will focus on three key themes: education and awareness; improving enforcement; and better cleansing and litter infrastructure. These will be backed up by specific actions under each objective. We are keen to publish the Strategy as soon as we can and a great deal of work is being done to achieve this.

We are committed to tackling fly-tipping and, as set out in the Government’s manifesto, have given local councils the power to issue fixed penalty notices for small-scale fly-tipping. These new enforcement tools have been available to councils since May 2016, providing them with an alternative to prosecutions and assisting them in taking a proportionate enforcement response.

This builds on other Government action to tackle fly-tipping, which has included: working with the Sentencing Council on its guideline for sentencing for environmental offences; making it easier for vehicles suspected of being involved in waste crime to be stopped, searched and seized; and continuing our work with the Defra chaired National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group to promote and disseminate good practice in the prevention, reporting, investigation and clearance of fly-tipped waste.

Q
Asked by Mrs Anne Main
(St Albans)
Asked on: 23 January 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate she has made of the total cost of clearing litter in (a) St Albans, (b) Hertfordshire, (c) the east of England and (d) England since 2010.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 27 January 2017

We have made no specific assessment of the costs of clearing litter in these areas. Data on local government spending, including on street cleansing, which includes tackling litter, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-revenue-expenditure-and-financing.

The cost of litter clearance is not recorded separately; the figures reported for spending on street cleansing also include spending on clearing fly-tipped waste and on activities which would be required even if all litter was disposed of appropriately, such as sweeping up fallen leaves or emptying public bins.

We estimate the annual cost to local government of clearing litter in England runs to hundreds of millions of pounds.

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