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
(Kingston and Surbiton)
Asked on: 20 July 2017
Home Office
Passports: Lost Property
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many UK passports have been lost abroad in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 17 January 2018

When a customer loses or has a passport stolen while abroad the guidance is that they should report this to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) where it has been lost. These losses and thefts are recorded by the FCO and the information is passed to Her Majesty’s Passport Office who will take necessary action to cancel the passport as appropriate.

Previous figures for UK passports lost & stolen outside the UK between 2008-2013 have been published by the FCO:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foi-release-uk-passports-lost-or-stolen-abroad

Other figures published by the FCO relating to lost and stolen passports abroad by British citizens can be found in the attached links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/passport-statistics

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/helping-british-nationals-abroad-2016

Q
Asked by Lyn Brown
(West Ham)
Asked on: 30 October 2017
Home Office
Immigrants: Employment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many staff hours her Department spent confirming whether employees have the right to work in the UK in response to queries from or on behalf of (a) employers and (b) employees in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 17 January 2018

This data is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Q
(Kingston and Surbiton)
Asked on: 08 December 2017
Home Office
Immigration: EU Nationals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the differences are between the proposed settled status for EU nationals after the UK leaves the EU and the current status of EU citizens who obtained indefinite leave to remain before the UK joined the EU.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 17 January 2018

EU citizens and their family members who obtain settled status under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) will be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This status will provide the holder with the same rights and access to benefits, education and healthcare as those who obtained it under the Immigration Rules before the UK joined the EU

In addition, the UK and the European Commission have agreed that those granted settled status under the WA will also benefit from certain more favourable entitlements including, for example, that ILR will not lapse unless the holder has been continuously absent from the UK for over five years, as opposed to two years; and more generous provisions relating to future family reunification.

Further details of the agreement with the European Commission can be found in ‘Joint report on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union’ published on 8 December 2017, available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-report-on-progress-during-phase-1-of-negotiations-under-article-50-teu-on-the-uks-orderly-withdrawal-from-the-eu.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 14 December 2017
Home Office
Immigrants: Health Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much has been raised by the Immigration Health Surcharge for the NHS in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced in April 2015. Income received from Immigration Health Surcharge payments since then is reported annually in the Home Office Annual Report and Accounts. However, the report shows the total amount of Immigration Health income raised in any given financial year, including the amount transferred at the year end to the Consolidated Fund for Extra Receipts. It does not show how much money was spent by the Home Office on collection costs, or how much was transferred to Department of Health and the Devolved Administrations for spending on the NHS; it just shows the sum of these two items. Therefore, to report the amount of Immigration Health Surcharge income “raised for the NHS” would equate to putting new information in the public domain

The Home Office collects this fee on behalf of the Department of Health and after deducting its administration/collection costs, it transfers the balance through the Main and Supplementary Estimate exercises using the Barnett Formula. Any surplus of income received over and above the allocations made in the Main and Supplementary Estimate exercises is transferred to the Consolidated Fund for Extra Receipts at the end of the year and made available by HM Treasury to Dept Health and the Devolved Administrations for spending on the NHS in the following financial year.
In the last Immigration Health Surcharge Order debated in Parliament £140.1m was made available for the NHS in FY15/16. Figure for FY16/17 is not readily available

FY2016/17 - page 117: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/627853/ho_annual_report_and_accounts_2016_2017.pdf
FY2015/16 - page 134 & 135: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539638/HO_AR_16_gov.pdf

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 15 December 2017
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: ICT
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to implement the guidance set out by the Government Commercial Function in its paper entitled Exiting Major IT Contracts: Guidance for Departments, published in November 2017, in respect of (a) using market engagement, (b) setting up disaggregation work, (c) risk assessment, (d) developing a programme plan through the transition, (e) identifying the skills and capabilities that will be needed in the future and (f) any other work related to that guidance.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 17 January 2018

DCMS has a partnering arrangement for IT services with the Cabinet Office, where Cabinet Office provides IT infrastructure and services directly to DCMS. Through this arrangement Cabinet Office monitors and reviews contract and supplier performance, and is implementing Government Commericlal Function advice. DCMS has developed an IT strategy that considers our needs and requirements as a department, including the capabilities we need, and we will deliver this in conjunction with the Cabinet Office.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 15 December 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: ICT
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to implement the guidance set out by the Government Commercial Function in its paper entitled Exiting Major IT Contracts: Guidance for Departments, published in November 2017, in respect of (a) using market engagement, (b) setting up disaggregation work, (c) risk assessment, (d) developing a programme plan through the transition, (e) identifying the skills and capabilities that will be needed in the future and (f) any other work related to that guidance.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 17 January 2018

In 2014 Defra has established a formal programme, the UnITy programme, to implement Government guidance on exiting large IT contracts. It will replace Defra’s current IBM and Capgemini IT contracts with a more disaggregated supply chain. Defra’s approach is consistent with the recent Government Commercial Function guidance on Exiting Major IT Contracts.

Market engagement events have taken place for each procurement, in advance of issuing ‘calls for competition’. The UnITy programme has been set up with formal governance. The programme also has a rigorous approach to risk management and risks are reviewed at its Programme Board. Each workstream that underpins UnITy develops a transition plan with the future service provider and the exiting suppliers. Defra has undertaken a review of the capabilities it requires in the future and mapped this against its existing capabilities.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 21 December 2017
Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the (a) amount of time and (b) resources that his Department allocated to the production of impact assessments on the UK leaving the EU; and on what date work on those impact assessments started.
A
Answered by: Mr David Lidington
Answered on: 17 January 2018

Impact Assessments, typically related to specific new primary legislation before Parliament, are narrowly defined. For example, the Government laid an impact assessment alongside the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which can be found on our website.

Civil Servants conduct any Impact Assessments related to legislation as business as usual. Our broader analysis continues.

Q
(Edinburgh West)
Asked on: 21 December 2017
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Radio Frequencies
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many fixed links are operating in the spectrum between 1350 MHz and 1400 MHz.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 17 January 2018

Given current use in the 1350 – 1375 MHz band it is not considered feasible to allow sharing in this band for Programme Making and Special Events. The band 1375 – 1400 MHz is used by the Ministry of Defence.

Q
(Edinburgh West)
Asked on: 21 December 2017
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Radio Frequencies
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the feasibility of Programme Making and Special Events services operating in the 1350-1400 MHz band.
A
Answered by: Margot James
Answered on: 17 January 2018

Given current use in the 1350 – 1375 MHz band it is not considered feasible to allow sharing in this band for Programme Making and Special Events. The band 1375 – 1400 MHz is used by the Ministry of Defence.

Q
Asked by Cat Smith
(Lancaster and Fleetwood)
Asked on: 21 December 2017
Cabinet Office
Elections: Finance
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reasons the budgets of Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers are exempt from Freedom of Information requirements; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of removing that exemption to increase transparency in the funding of elections.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The Government agrees that Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers should be brought within the scope of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

Whilst there are issues which require careful consideration, there are a number of potential benefits to ensuring the information held by Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) is publicly available such as enhancing their accountability to the public and providing greater transparency as to the work underway to support electoral registration, which is vital in underpinning the democratic process.

Many EROs and ROs choose to voluntarily disclose information when requested under the FOI Act and the Association of Electoral Administrators, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Electoral Commission have previously stated that they are in favour of bringing EROs under the FOI Act

However, the maximum recoverable amounts made available to Returning Officers for the conduct of national polls are published in advance of the poll in the corresponding Charges Order and are already publicly available.

Q
Asked by Andrew Gwynne
(Denton and Reddish)
Asked on: 21 December 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government: Travel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how much his Department has spent on (a) taxis, (b) first class train tickets and (c) business class air travel in each of the last four years.
A
Answered by: Jake Berry
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The table below sets out the expenditure for my Department on taxis, first class train tickets and business class air travel.

The information for taxis is as shown on the Department's Finance System and for train and air as recorded on the Redfern Travel Management Information Reports.

My Department started to use its current travel provider, Redfern, in July 2009 and, “although the format of the travel report for 2009–10 is for the partial year July 2009–March 2010 due to the previous travel contract being discontinued, this has been included for reference”. As can be seen, if the partial year of 2009–10 is compared to the full year of 2016–17, taxi fare expenditure has fallen by 51 per cent, first class train ticket expenditure has fallen by 97 per cent, and business class air travel has fallen by 82 per cent since the start of the decade, an overall fall of around 87 per cent or £230,000.

Expenditure to the nearest £thousand

Type and Mode of travel

July 2009 – March 2010

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Taxis Fares

45

26

27

27

22

First class train tickets

185

6

6

14

6

Business class air travel

34

11

26

9

6

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 05 January 2018
Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade: Sick Leave
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what the cost was to his Department as a result of officials taking sick leave in the last year.
A
Answered by: Greg Hands
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The total cost of sickness pay to domestic staff within the Department for International Trade (DIT), from 1 January 2017 – 31 December 2017 is as follows:

DIT domestic payroll: £241,333

UKEF payroll: £97,829

Total: £339,162

DIT and UKEF have reported data separately as two payroll providers are used.

Q
(Salford and Eccles)
[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: 05 January 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Patents: Fees and Charges
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to The Patents and Patents (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 2017, what assessment has made of the potential effect of the increase in fees on the number of patent applications.
A
Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah
Answered on: 17 January 2018
Holding answer received on 10 January 2018

The fee changes are being made after a full public consultation and Impact Assessment (www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-changes-to-statutory-patents-fees). Past experience has shown that previous fee increases have resulted in small or no changes in the number of patent applications. The new fees remain modest but are designed to encourage businesses and, in particular, individuals to consider carefully – before they apply – whether patent protection will be of benefit to them. We therefore expect to see a decrease in the number of speculative applications, and applications with little chance of successfully being granted a patent. The Impact Assessment modelled a 10% decrease in the number of applications on this basis, but no decrease is expected in the number of valid patents being granted to innovators. This will ensure that valuable patent examiner resources can be more focussed on patent applications with a prospect of success, to the benefit of innovative businesses.

Q
Asked by Hilary Benn
(Leeds Central)
Asked on: 05 January 2018
Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 22 December 2017 to Question 119231, if he will place in the Library a copy of the analytical work his Department has undertaken examining the implications of the UK leaving the EU on all sectors of the UK economy.
A
Answered by: Greg Hands
Answered on: 17 January 2018

In November 2017, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU provided the House of Commons Committee on Exiting the EU and the Lords EU Committee with information covering 58 sectors of the economy, which was published by the committee in December 2017. This analysis was produced by DExEU working with officials across Government, including the Department for International Trade (DIT).

To clarify the answer to 119231, DIT is undertaking a programme of analytical work, looking at the implications of UK withdrawal from the EU, as they relate to the work of the department and the UK’s future trade policy, including the development of a new trade remedies regime, the continuity of existing EU FTA agreements with third countries and the choices for future FTAs the UK will look to enter into negotiations with. The government’s commitment to transparency and inclusivity with regards to the development of trade policy was set out in the Trade White Paper.

Asked on: 08 January 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Islamic State: Crimes against Humanity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter published by the government of the Netherlands on 22 December 2017 stating that Daesh has, in all likelihood, committed genocide and crimes against humanity, and that, in the absence of any international determination of genocide, governments and Parliaments should determine its actions as such.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The Government condemns Daesh crimes. The Government maintains that genocide should be a matter for judicial authorities rather than a political decision, and agrees with the Netherlands Government which has stated its full support for the need to focus on prevention. The UK has led the international campaign to bring Daesh to justice through UN Security Council Resolution 2379, which mandates a special advisor to set up a team to investigate and collect evidence of Daesh crimes, starting in Iraq.

Asked on: 08 January 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what communications they have had with Mahmoud Abbas since the announcement by the government of the United States of its intention to relocate the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Middle East reaffirmed the UK’s long-standing position on Jerusalem when they met Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on 8 January.

Asked on: 08 January 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Peace Negotiations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava, is represented at future peace talks on Syria.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2018

There is Kurdish representation at Syrian peace negotiations in Geneva through the Kurdish National Council, which has a role within the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission. Invitations for any other groups to the Geneva peace negotiations are a matter for the UN Special Envoy for Syria. The UN Envoy has involved Kurdish and other minority groups in civil society discussions alongside formal negotiations in Geneva.

We maintain that any political settlement must be inclusive. All Syrian constituencies must ultimately be represented in discussion on Syria's future – this is a key principle in the 2012 Geneva communique and UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Asked on: 08 January 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) diplomatic, (2) military, and (3) humanitarian, training and support they have provided to the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava, in the last two years.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2018

We maintain political and diplomatic contact with a number of Kurdish groups to influence their policy and work towards a political solution to the conflict, encouraging commitment to pluralism and pressing for cooperation with the wider Syrian opposition. We have used our occasional contact with the PYD to express concern over reports of human rights abuses by its associated security forces and over links with both the Assad regime and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The UK does not provide any direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (YPG) or the Democratic Union Party (PYD). As part of the Global Coalition, we have provided military support including airstrikes to the Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG are a contingent part, in the campaign to remove Daesh from Eastern Syria. We have also provided humanitarian and limited stabilisation support to address the immediate needs of the local population in Eastern Syria.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 08 January 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pakistan: Churches
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan following the attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta on 17 December 2017; and what response they have received to any such representations.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2018

The British Government strongly condemns all terrorist attacks. The attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta last month was a sad reminder of the terrorist threat confronting the people of Pakistan and minority communities in particular. I expressed my condolences to all those affected by this abhorrent attack at the time. We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of minority communities with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level.

The UK continues to stand with Pakistan in tackling the shared threat from terrorism and extremism and addressing the root causes.

Q
Asked on: 08 January 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in those countries that have ratified it.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 17 January 2018

We have made no such assessment.

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