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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Q
Asked by Bob Stewart
(Beckenham)
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Department for Transport
Highways England: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of Highway England's performance in fulfilling its legal duty to keep its land clean and free from litter.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 21 July 2017

Litter collection by Highways England is one of many important road safety duties that they carry out on the motorways and the small number of A-roads they are responsible for.


Highways England’s Litter Strategy sets out how they will work effectively with Local Authorities to remove litter and deliver a cleaner and safer network.


Measures have been put in place to target the 25 worst spots for littering on the network. Since March 2017 Highways England have removed 6,684 sacks of litter from these 25 hotspots. Their work to date has seen a significant reduction in complaints about roadside litter.


However, there is more to do and the Department is working closely with Highways England to remove litter from the roads they manage and support the first ever Government National Litter Strategy for England, which was published in April.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 11 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lords
Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the UN Oceans Conference on 5–9 June and the Council of the European Union Environment Council on 19 June, what plans they have to reduce, and if possible eliminate, the pollution of oceans, seas and beaches by plastic materials.
A
Answered on: 20 July 2017

At the recent UN Oceans Conference the UK made several voluntary commitments, including signing up to the UN’s CleanSeas campaign. This programme aims to transform habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to dramatically reduce marine litter and the harm it causes.

The UK Government has undertaken several key actions to protect the marine environment from marine litter which are set out in the Marine Strategy Part Three. Recent additional actions include the publication of the National Litter Strategy for England and our plans to ban microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. We also work with neighbouring countries to address this issue, particularly through the OSPAR Regional Action Plan on marine litter.

Q
Asked by Bob Stewart
(Beckenham)
Asked on: 13 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a legally binding extended producer responsibility scheme for litter.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 20 July 2017

The Government’s Litter Strategy for England, published on 10 April, outlines a range of measures to reduce litter and littering behaviour. As part of the Strategy we are establishing a working group to explore voluntary or regulatory measures to reduce the incidence of commonly littered items.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 13 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Environment Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the potential benefits are of the UK becoming a signatory of the Environment Clean Seas Campaign.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 20 July 2017

At the recent UN Oceans Conference, the UK made several voluntary commitments, including signing up to the UN’s Clean Seas campaign. This programme aims to transform habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to dramatically reduce marine litter and the harm it causes.

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: 11 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
G7: Environment Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations the Government made at the Environmental Ministerial Meeting of the G7 in Bologna on 11 and 12 June 2017; and what contribution he made to discussions on food waste and separate food waste collections.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 17 July 2017

I represented the UK at the G7 Environment Ministers' Meeting in Bologna on 11-12 June. The UK was instrumental in achieving key elements in the G7 Environment Ministers’ Communiqué and Roadmap.

The UK’s interventions led to the inclusion of text on: international momentum on implementing the Paris Agreement; initiatives to address marine litter; support for the Sustainable Development Goals; and support for commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

The UK also influenced the development of the “5-year Bologna Roadmap”, which includes a section on food waste.

Asked on: 29 June 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage local authorities to consider washing their high streets and shopping parades on a regular basis, in addition to sweeping and other cleaning measures.
A
Answered on: 13 July 2017

Local authorities and other land managers are responsible for keeping their “relevant land”, which includes high streets and shopping parades, clear of litter and refuse. The statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse sets out the standards of cleanliness that they are expected to be able to achieve on different types of land. The Code places the emphasis on the consistent and appropriate management of an area to keep it clean, rather than on how often it is cleaned or the use of specific approaches.

It is up to councils 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
(Birmingham, Hall Green)
Asked on: 04 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beaches and Rivers: Litter and Sewage
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that the UK's rivers and beaches are not polluted by sewage or litter.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 12 July 2017

The Government published the first Litter Strategy for England on 10 April, setting out our aim to clean up the country, including rivers and beaches.

Our strategy is to apply best practice in education, enforcement and infrastructure to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering behaviour within a generation. The common aim of all the actions in the Litter Strategy is to change the behaviour of those who currently feel that it is acceptable to drop litter. By reducing the amount of litter dropped, and improving cleaning, we will also reduce the litter reaching our rivers and beaches.

Pollution caused by sewage is controlled by discharge permits issued by the Environment Agency (EA) which must meet the requirements of various environmental regulations including the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations and Bathing Water Regulations. In England, between 2015 and 2020 water companies are investing over £2 billion to improve their sewerage infrastructure, guided by the requirements of the EA. This includes investment to improve sewage treatment works and collecting systems with the aim of reducing the polluting impact of sewage discharges on beaches and rivers. The results to date are that bathing waters are at their highest ever quality, thousands of miles of rivers have been improved and the number of pollution incidents greatly reduced.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 04 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Waste Disposal
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce and prevent plastic waste in the countryside.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 11 July 2017

The Government has taken action to reduce plastic waste and increase recycling, including:

  • The UK Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations, which cover silage wrap and other plastic packaging found on farms, require obligated producers of packaging to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they handle is recovered and recycled. These regulations have resulted in a significant increase in recycling over the last decade, with recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 60% in 2015.

  • The Government introduced a 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags from 5 October 2015. So far the 5p charge has been effective in decreasing the distribution of plastic bags, contributing to a reduction in the number of plastic bags found in the open environment. The latest figures are due to be published by 31st July.

    The Government also published the first Litter Strategy for England on 10 April, setting out our intention to apply best practice in education, enforcement and infrastructure to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering behaviour within a generation. The common aim of all the actions in the Litter Strategy is to change the behaviour of those who currently feel that it is acceptable to drop any kind of litter, whether they are in an urban or rural environment. The Strategy can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/litter-strategy-for-england

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: 21 June 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter: Drinks
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 34 of the Government's Litter Strategy for England published in April 2017, whether the timeline for his Department's Working Group on Voluntary and Economic Incentives Reduce Litter to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of deposit and reward and return schemes for drinks containers, and to produce advice by the end of 2017, still stands.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 26 June 2017

In line with civil service guidance, work to establish the Working Group was paused during the recent pre-election period. Defra officials will be establishing the Working Group soon, with the aim of the Group providing advice to Ministers in the new year.

Once the Working Group has been established, I will write to the hon. Member with details of its membership and place a copy in the library of the House

Grouped Questions: 293 | 294
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: 21 June 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter: Drinks
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 34 of the Government's Litter Strategy for England published in April 2017, if he will provide regular updates to Parliament on the progress of discussions of his Department's Working Group on Voluntary and Economic Incentives to Reduce Litter considering the advantages and disadvantages of different types of deposit and reward and return schemes for drinks containers.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 26 June 2017

In line with civil service guidance, work to establish the Working Group was paused during the recent pre-election period. Defra officials will be establishing the Working Group soon, with the aim of the Group providing advice to Ministers in the new year.

Once the Working Group has been established, I will write to the hon. Member with details of its membership and place a copy in the library of the House

Grouped Questions: 292 | 294
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: 21 June 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Voluntary and Economic Incentives to Reduce Litter Working Group
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 79 of the Government's Litter Strategy for England published in April 2017, if he will publish the membership of his Department's Working Group on Voluntary and Economic Incentives Reduce Litter.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 26 June 2017

In line with civil service guidance, work to establish the Working Group was paused during the recent pre-election period. Defra officials will be establishing the Working Group soon, with the aim of the Group providing advice to Ministers in the new year.

Once the Working Group has been established, I will write to the hon. Member with details of its membership and place a copy in the library of the House

Grouped Questions: 292 | 293
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