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 2015-16 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 Lord Chidgey
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
South Sudan: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what communication the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has had with the South Sudanese Transitional Government of National Unity.
Answered on: 27 May 2016
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), wrote to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President Dr Riek Machar Teny and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Deng Alor Kwol on 6 May. He welcomed the formation of the transitional government and urged them to secure peace, tackle the economic crisis and address the humanitarian situation. Our Embassy in Juba is also in direct contact with members of the transitional government and will continue to press for the full implementation of the peace agreement.
Q
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: EU External Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the violations of the conditions of the EU Association Agreement by the government of Israel, what discussions they have had with other members of the EU, and the EU institutions, concerning the suspension of that agreement.
Answered on: 27 May 2016
The EU Association Agreement provides an important framework to discuss the EU’s human rights concerns, and we work with the EU and Israel to address these. The EU regularly raises its concerns with Israel in meetings at all levels through the structures of the Association Agreement.
Q
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Land Mines
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of the news that the HALO Trust has been granted approval to clear mines around the site of the baptism of Christ, what representations they plan to make to the government of Israel about clearing mines along the River Jordan that were laid during the 1967 war.
Answered on: 27 May 2016
We welcome the HALO Trust's work in the West Bank and are pleased that the UK has provided support to this. We will continue to liaise with Israeli and Palestinian authorities on these activities. The British Government has not lobbied the Israeli government to clear mines laid in 1967 along the rest of Jordan River.
Q
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Palestinians
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to participate in the initiative of the government of France for ending the conflict in Israel and Palestine.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

We will continue to work closely with the French government to ensure that their initiative makes a constructive contribution that encourages the parties to resume negotiations.

Q
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gaza
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take, in the light of the recent deaths caused by the electricity crisis in Gaza, to (1) initiate discussions with other EU member states to end import restrictions, (2) assess the humanitarian situation first-hand, and (3) put forward a plan of action to rehouse citizens of Gaza who are forced to move owing to pollution.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

We are concerned by the electricity shortage in Gaza and the serious impact it is having on the humanitarian situation. We, and the EU, regularly raise Gaza’s energy and the need to ease movement and access restrictions with the Israeli authorities. Our staff who visit and work in Gaza assess the humanitarian situation frequently. We have not put forward a plan rehouse citizens of Gaza who are forced to move owing to pollution.

Q
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Palestinians
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the firing of tear gas canisters at journalists in front of Ofer Prison.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

We have not raised this issue with the Government of Israel. However, the UK has repeatedly made clear to Israel our longstanding concerns about the manner in which the Israeli Defence Forces police non-violent protests. We are clear that protection of the freedom of the media is an important part of respecting human rights.

Q
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Palestinians
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the firing of live bullets at Palestinians protesting against the Israeli incursion in al-Azza refugee camp, which wounded one protester.
Answered on: 27 May 2016
While we have not made any representations to the Israeli authorities on this issue, we have an ongoing dialogue with the Israeli authorities about the Israel Defence Forces' use of live fire.
Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Home Office
Asylum: EU Law
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to move more UK officials to Calais and Northern France to work full-time on identifying, screening and processing potential transfers under the Dublin III regulations, and to make special provision for cases where further evidence of family links is needed.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2016

Under the UK-France Joint Declaration of 20 August 2015, the UK and France have committed to ensuring that the provisions of the Dublin III Regulation are used efficiently and effectively. To assist the handling of such cases the two governments have established a permanent official contact group, agreed single points of contact within respective Dublin Units and the UK seconded an asylum expert to the French administration to facilitate the improvement of all stages of the process of identifying, protecting and transferring relevant cases to the UK. The Home Office will review the existing arrangements as part of the work to implement the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act 2016.

To assist with the identification of potential victims of trafficking and exploitation (including unaccompanied children) in Calais the UK has funded a project run by a French non-governmental organisation which aims to identify and direct these vulnerable people to the appropriate support services in France.

The UK and France are running regular joint communication campaigns in northern France which informs individuals (including unaccompanied children) of their rights to claim asylum in France and gives them information on family reunification. The frequency of these campaigns has been increased in line with the Joint Declaration signed in August 2015.

Grouped Questions: HL73 | HL74
Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Home Office
Asylum: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to work together with the French government to ensure that unaccompanied children have access to high quality legal assistance to submit claims for family reunion in the UK, and to fund improved measures for identification of, and support for, unaccompanied minors in Calais and Northern France.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2016

Under the UK-France Joint Declaration of 20 August 2015, the UK and France have committed to ensuring that the provisions of the Dublin III Regulation are used efficiently and effectively. To assist the handling of such cases the two governments have established a permanent official contact group, agreed single points of contact within respective Dublin Units and the UK seconded an asylum expert to the French administration to facilitate the improvement of all stages of the process of identifying, protecting and transferring relevant cases to the UK. The Home Office will review the existing arrangements as part of the work to implement the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act 2016.

To assist with the identification of potential victims of trafficking and exploitation (including unaccompanied children) in Calais the UK has funded a project run by a French non-governmental organisation which aims to identify and direct these vulnerable people to the appropriate support services in France.

The UK and France are running regular joint communication campaigns in northern France which informs individuals (including unaccompanied children) of their rights to claim asylum in France and gives them information on family reunification. The frequency of these campaigns has been increased in line with the Joint Declaration signed in August 2015.

Grouped Questions: HL72 | HL74
Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Home Office
Asylum: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that unaccompanied children in Northern France have information about the process for reuniting with their families in the UK under the Dublin III Regulations, that this is presented in a form and language that the children can understand, and that it includes information about the process for asylum transfers, the likely timeframes involved, and the criteria on which decisions are based.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2016

Under the UK-France Joint Declaration of 20 August 2015, the UK and France have committed to ensuring that the provisions of the Dublin III Regulation are used efficiently and effectively. To assist the handling of such cases the two governments have established a permanent official contact group, agreed single points of contact within respective Dublin Units and the UK seconded an asylum expert to the French administration to facilitate the improvement of all stages of the process of identifying, protecting and transferring relevant cases to the UK. The Home Office will review the existing arrangements as part of the work to implement the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act 2016.

To assist with the identification of potential victims of trafficking and exploitation (including unaccompanied children) in Calais the UK has funded a project run by a French non-governmental organisation which aims to identify and direct these vulnerable people to the appropriate support services in France.

The UK and France are running regular joint communication campaigns in northern France which informs individuals (including unaccompanied children) of their rights to claim asylum in France and gives them information on family reunification. The frequency of these campaigns has been increased in line with the Joint Declaration signed in August 2015.

Grouped Questions: HL72 | HL73
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the aerial bombing of the Heiban locality in the South Khordofan and Blue Nile regions on 1 May, what assessment they have made of (1) the willingness, and (2) the capability, of the government of Sudan to distinguish between civilians and combatants.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The reported aerial bombardment of civilians in the Heiban locality of South Kordofan is appalling. Targeting of civilians would be a clear breach of International Humanitarian Law. We continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that they have a responsibility to protect citizens, distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and uphold International Humanitarian Law.

We consistently raise the importance of ending the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile directly with both the Government of Sudan and the Opposition; most recently, the UK Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan raised this issue during his visit to Khartoum earlier this month. We continue to call on all sides to end the violence and believe that the Roadmap proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel represents a viable way forward.

Grouped Questions: HL78 | HL79
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Peace Negotiations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the aerial bombing of the Heiban locality in the South Khordofan and Blue Nile regions on 1 May, what representations they have made to the government of Sudan about reducing conflict and bringing about a ceasefire.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The reported aerial bombardment of civilians in the Heiban locality of South Kordofan is appalling. Targeting of civilians would be a clear breach of International Humanitarian Law. We continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that they have a responsibility to protect citizens, distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and uphold International Humanitarian Law.

We consistently raise the importance of ending the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile directly with both the Government of Sudan and the Opposition; most recently, the UK Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan raised this issue during his visit to Khartoum earlier this month. We continue to call on all sides to end the violence and believe that the Roadmap proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel represents a viable way forward.

Grouped Questions: HL77 | HL79
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the aerial bombing of the Heiban locality in the South Khordofan and Blue Nile regions on 1 May, what assessment they have made of whether the government of Sudan is now in breach of international humanitarian law.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The reported aerial bombardment of civilians in the Heiban locality of South Kordofan is appalling. Targeting of civilians would be a clear breach of International Humanitarian Law. We continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that they have a responsibility to protect citizens, distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and uphold International Humanitarian Law.

We consistently raise the importance of ending the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile directly with both the Government of Sudan and the Opposition; most recently, the UK Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan raised this issue during his visit to Khartoum earlier this month. We continue to call on all sides to end the violence and believe that the Roadmap proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel represents a viable way forward.

Grouped Questions: HL77 | HL78
Q
Asked by Lord Beith
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Ministry of Justice
Missing Persons: Guardianship
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will bring forward a draft bill to make provision for guardianship of the property of missing persons.
A
Answered by: Lord Faulks
Answered on: 27 May 2016

My Department is working to prepare the legislation necessary to create the new legal status of guardian of the property and affairs of the missing person. We will bring forward legislation when Parliamentary time allows.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Home Office
Turkey: Immigrants
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what reports they have received concerning the welfare of refugees and migrants removed from Greece to Turkey, in the light of reports that some are being detained in camps at Düziçi and elsewhere, without access to legal advice or medical services.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The Government takes very seriously any allegations of the inappropriate treatment of migrants or refugees, and we would urge any evidence substantiating the allegations to be made available to us and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We note Turkey’s strong assurances about the treatment of migrants and refugees in its camps and removal centres. And also note the recent agreements reached betweenTurkey, the European Commission and the UNHCR, providing them with access to the Düziçi Camp and Kirklareli Removal Centre, and the UNHCR’s positive view following its initial visit. We will be following the outcome of future visits closely.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Philippines: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to request reports from the UN and from human rights groups on the existence in the Philippines of death-squads and their use to murder alleged criminals and victims of mistaken identity.
Answered on: 27 May 2016

We do not plan to make such a request at this time as we are already aware of reports by groups such as Human Rights Watch on instances of extra judicial killings. Our Embassy in Manila is in frequent contact with human rights groups and the UN in the Philippines on these and a range of other human rights issues. We also work closely with our EU partners to press for investigations into instances of abuse, and to encourage the protection of human rights defenders. The British Government’s view on the importance of the rule of law is clear, consistent and well known in the Philippines. Our Ambassador wrote an Op-Ed on this subject in the Philippine Star newspaper on 19 May 2016

Asked on: 18 May 2016
Home Office
Immigrants: Detainees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many pregnant women are currently held in detention under the Immigration Act 2014.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The Home Office will not necessarily be aware that a woman is pregnant unless she chooses to make this known to us and a woman may not know herself that she is pregnant when she is detained. It may not always be appropriate for healthcare professionals to disclose information that the patient has asked not to be disclosed.

As of 19 May 2016 there were no pregnant women detained under Immigration Act powers in an immigration removal centre or residential short-term holding facility, subject to these conditions.

Q
Asked by Kevin Brennan
(Cardiff West)
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Energy: EU Law
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what meetings he has had with the European Commissioner for Competition on EU state aid rules and support for energy-intensive industries.
A
Answered by: Anna Soubry
Answered on: 27 May 2016

Over the past year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has met and called several times with Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, to discuss EU state aid rules and energy-intensive industries. I as Minister of State for Business, Industry and Enterprise attended the energy intensive industries high level stakeholder conference in Brussels in February. Senior officials from the Department have also had regular meetings with Commission Competition officials to discuss these issues.

Q
Asked by Kevin Brennan
(Cardiff West)
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Iron and Steel: Manufacturing Industries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what assessment he has made of the contribution of the Materials Processing Institute to the development of a modern British steel industry.
A
Answered by: Anna Soubry
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The Government is exploring all options to support steel and the foundation industries. We are interested to consider how we can develop the best way forward for the UK industry alongside all parties with steel expertise, including the Materials Processing Institute.

Q
Asked by Kevin Brennan
(Cardiff West)
Asked on: 18 May 2016
Cabinet Office
Local Government: Iron and Steel
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the level of procurement of British steel by local authorities in the UK.
A
Answered by: Matthew Hancock
Answered on: 27 May 2016

The Government has not made an assessment of the level of procurement of British steel by local authorities in England and it does not collect or hold this information centrally.

Last year Government issued guidance across central government, which sets out how government buyers should source steel for major projects in a more strategic and transparent way. This is underpinned by more detailed guidance explaining how Government departments should take into account the social impacts of competing suppliers as well as environmental factors for certain procurements involving steel.

In April 2016, Government announced that the guidance on procuring steel would be extended to the wider public sector. We are working with key stakeholders to take this forward so that we can maximise take-up of the guidance across the wider public sector.

As local government procurement policy is a devolved matter, it is for the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to determine how they will conduct any assessment for their local authorities.

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