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
(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: 14 September 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Balloons and Sky Lanterns: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to bring forward legislative proposals to classify the intentional outdoor release of (a) helium-filled balloons and (b) sky lanterns for commemorative, social or publicity events as acts of littering under current legislation.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 09 October 2017

There are no plans to bring forward legislation to classify the intentional outdoor release of helium-filled balloons and sky lanterns as acts of littering. Councils in England already have powers under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act to take an individual to court if they believe them to be guilty of a littering offence or, as an alternative, they may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
[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 September 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 the Government has made of the capacity of local authorities to respond to incidents of littering and fly-tipping
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 15 September 2017

The majority of local authority spending is financed by non-ringfenced income, which councils themselves decide how to spend. The Government has not made an assessment of the capacity of local authorities to respond to incidents of littering and fly-tipping. Local authorities have responsibility for tackling littering and fly-tipping and it is up to them to decide how best to do this and how to prioritise it against the provision of other local services.

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
[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 September 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 the Government is taking to reduce littering and fly-tipping.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 14 September 2017

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

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. The Strategy can be found online at:

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

Fly-tipping is unacceptable as it blights the areas where it occurs, imposes costs on those whose land is affected, can pose a risk to the environment or human health and it affects the livelihoods of those involved in the legitimate waste management business.

We are committed to tackling fly-tipping and the Government has:

  • given local authorities in England the power to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £400 for small-scale fly-tipping, providing local authorities with an alternative to prosecutions and helping them take a proportionate enforcement response;

  • made it easier for vehicles suspected of being involved in waste crime to be stopped, searched and seized;

  • cracked down on offenders by strengthening the Sentencing Council’s Guideline for environmental offences, which came into force on 1 July 2014;

  • strengthened the waste duty of care by publishing a revised Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice, that provides guidance to local authorities, regulators, waste industry and all those that produce, keep, import, treat, have control or dispose of controlled waste on how to comply with their waste duty of care obligations;

  • supported the industry-led Right Waste Right Place campaign to promote Duty of Care to small businesses. The campaign will be targeting construction, retail and agricultural businesses; and

  • chaired the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG) to prevent and tackle illegal dumping. The NFTPG includes representatives from central and local Government, enforcement authorities, the waste industry, and private landowners. The NFTPG has published a Fly-tipping Partnership Framework outlining best practice for the prevention, reporting, investigation and clearance of fly-tipping to be adapted to suit local circumstances, and a series of fly-tipping prevention guides for householders, businesses and landowners.

Q
Asked by Liz McInnes
(Heywood and Middleton)
[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 September 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Bottles: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to increase recycling rates.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 14 September 2017

As part of the Litter Strategy for England that was published in April this year, we have established a working group to look at different voluntary and economic incentives to improve the recycling and reuse of packaging, and to reduce the incidence of commonly littered items. As well as voluntary models, the scope of the working group includes consideration of regulatory options and measures to target particular types of item or product, including the full cost impacts and benefits of different types of deposit and reward and return schemes for drink containers including plastic bottles. This working group will be consulting widely in developing its evidence base and analysis.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 13 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Developing Countries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what voluntary initiatives his Department has implemented under the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 14.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 04 September 2017

The United Kingdom has made four voluntary commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the following topics:

  • Marine science. The UK has pledged to work actively with international partners in a range of major issues such as strengthening global ocean observations, world ocean assessments and data sharing.

  • Marine Litter. The UK has committed to several actions in order to combat marine litter. These include reducing the volume of single use plastic bags, the introduction of national litter strategies and banning microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. The UK has also signed up to the UN Clean Seas Initiative.

  • Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme. The UK has committed to delivering a package of measures that will help to provide Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean regions with accurate hydrographic and scientific date relating to their marine environment. The UK will also provide training and capacity building for national bodies involved in the research and management of marine resources, to enable them to use the data to promote economic growth and development.

  • Marine Protected Areas in the UK and our Overseas Territories. The UK has committed to ensuring that UK waters are managed and used in a sustainable way, including by working internationally with our Overseas Territories in order to protect the globally significant biodiversity found in their waters

A more detailed summary of the commitments of the United Kingdom and other States and organisations is at https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments/

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) reduce waste going to landfill, and (2) increase recycling of plastic cups and bottles.
A
Answered on: 03 August 2017

As a country we are moving away from landfill to more environmentally beneficial and higher value uses for waste. We are making good progress with diverting waste from landfill with the amount of local authority waste in England going to landfill falling by over 70% between 2000/01 and 2015/16. Landfill tax is the main driver in diverting residual waste from landfill and is currently £86.10 per tonne.

Defra is also investing £3 billion in a number of local authority projects through Waste Infrastructure Grants. This is contributing towards the reduction of waste sent to landfill, promoting renewable energy, recycling and stimulating growth.

England has already achieved a lot in the area of recycling, increasing household recycling from 11% in 2000 to 44% in 2015.

In September 2016, the Waste and Resources Action Programme and an industry advisory group published a framework for greater consistency, encouraging councils to recycle a common set of materials, as well as setting out actions to rationalise packaging, particularly plastics, into items that can be collected for recycling while supporting innovation in packaging design.

Current Packaging policies and regulations have resulted in recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 60% in 2015. We have also announced our intention to increase obligated businesses’ packaging recycling targets to over 75% by 2020. As part of this, we have made great progress in boosting recycling rates for plastic bottles. Their collection for recycling has increased dramatically, from less than 13,000 tonnes in 2000 to over 330,000 tonnes in 2015, and almost all local councils now collect plastic bottles as part of their general waste collection services.

As part of the Litter Strategy for England, published on 10 April, we have established a working group to look at different voluntary and economic incentives to improve recycling and reuse of packaging, and to reduce the incidence of commonly littered items. The working group’s first investigation will consider voluntary models or regulatory options and measures to target drinks containers, including plastic bottles.

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with business regarding incentives to reduce the use of non-recyclable plastic bottles and cups; and what, if any, such incentives they are planning to introduce.
A
Answered on: 03 August 2017

Plastic bottles and plastic cups are usually recyclable. More than 45 packaging companies and retailers are working together through the Paper Cup Manifesto to significantly increase paper cup recycling by 2020.

As part of our Litter Strategy we have established a working group to look at potential voluntary and regulatory measures to reduce litter and improve recycling behaviour by consumers. This working group is looking at drinks containers.

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what incentives they are putting in place in conjunction with manufacturers to deliver wholly recyclable plastic bottles and cups.
A
Answered on: 03 August 2017

Plastic bottles and plastic cups are usually recyclable. More than 45 packaging companies and retailers are working together through the Paper Cup Manifesto to significantly increase paper cup recycling by 2020.

As part of our Litter Strategy we have established a working group to look at potential voluntary and regulatory measures to reduce litter and improve recycling behaviour by consumers. This working group is looking at drinks containers.

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
Corrected answer by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Corrected on: 25 July 2017
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 20 July 2017.
The correct answer should have been:

UK legislation already exists to establish Producer Responsibility schemes for a number of items, including for packaging, which unfortunately can still be littered.

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.

A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 20 July 2017

UK legislation already exists to establish Producer Responsibility schemes for a number of items, including for packaging, which unfortunately can still be littered.

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
Asked by Bob Stewart
(Beckenham)
Asked on: 17 July 2017
Department for Transport
Roads: 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
(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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