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
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Home Office
Drugs: Misuse
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to his Department's Drugs Strategy, published in July 2017, whether a (a) National Recovery Champion and (b) Steering Committee has been appointed; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Government is committed to preventing drug use in our communities and supporting people through treatment and recovery and we expect to make an announcement about the Recovery Champion in due course.

We have established a Drug Strategy Board which includes representation from Government departments and wider partners who are critical to the successful delivery of the Strategy, including those in education, health, criminal justice, housing and employment. The Board is chaired by the Home Secretary and its purpose is to oversee and drive implementation of the commitments in the 2017 Drug Strategy. The Board has met twice since the Drug Strategy was published, the next meeting will take place in early November.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Home Office
Drugs: Misuse
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what progress he has made on the implementation of his Department's Drug Strategy, published in July 2017.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 16 November 2018

Nationally, the Government is already delivering a range of actions through the 2017 Drug Strategy to prevent drug misuse in our communities, support people to recover from dependence on drugs, and support enforcement partners to tackle the illicit drug trade.

We have established a Home Secretary-chaired Board which includes representation from Government departments and wider partners that are critical to drive implementation of the commitments in the 2017 Drug Strategy.

However, we recognise there is still further to go to tackle the problems caused by drugs, which is why the Home Secretary recently announced an independent review of drugs. The review will provide an in-depth assessment of some of the challenges we face and identify where there are opportunities to step up our approach.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for International Trade
Game: Exports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps his Department is taking to promote the export of British game meat.
A
Answered by: Graham Stuart
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Department for International Trade supports exports for the whole of the food and drink sector and in 2017 game meat exports were worth £7 million.

Game meat exports receive the same level of support as the rest of the food and drink sector through initiatives such as the GREAT campaign and the recently launched Export Strategy. We also work with a variety of food and drink trade associations to ensure that the Government is providing the right kind of support. We will continue to use the UK’s reputation for high quality food and drink, with high standards of traceability and sustainability further increasing overseas demand for our products.

Q
(Torfaen)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that a claimant will not receive less money in benefits as a result of moving to universal credit under the managed migration process.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 16 November 2018

Welfare claimants whose circumstances remain the same will not see their benefit entitlement reduced as a direct result of being moved on to Universal Credit through managed migration, as they will receive transitional protection. This will ensure that claimants who are managed migrated will have total entitlement to Universal Credit that is at least as great had been their total entitlement to existing benefits at the point they are migrated, so safeguarding their benefit entitlement until their circumstances change.

Claimants whose entitlement is less in Universal Credit than their legacy entitlement will receive transitional protection to ensure their benefit allowance remains the same at the point of transition. The other claimants who are migrated onto Universal Credit as part of managed migration will receive the same or an increased entitlement as they receive on legacy benefits.

Additionally, we have announced that Tax Credits claimants with capital in excess of the £16,000 capital threshold will now receive a 12-month grace period during which they can receive transitional protection if eligible.

We have also announced that, from 16 January 2019, we will prevent those claimants who are, or have been within the past month entitled to an award of an existing benefit that includes a Severe Disability Premium (SDP), from naturally migrating to Universal Credit following a change of circumstances. These claimants will continue to receive the relevant legacy benefit(s) appropriate to their change of circumstance and will only move to Universal Credit via managed migration (and therefore be eligible to transitional protection), safeguarding their existing benefit entitlement.

We will also provide both an on-going monthly payment to eligible claimants who have already lost the SDP as a consequence of moving to Universal Credit and an additional monthly payment to cover the period since they moved. Eligibility for these payments will depend on a number of criteria being satisfied, which include whether the basic qualifying conditions for SDP continue to be met.

Q
(Barnsley East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Private Sector
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department plans to increase the number of private prisons.
A
Answered by: Rory Stewart
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Government is committed, as set out on the 26 June at the Justice Select Committee and in the 2017 manifesto, to building up to 10,000 modern and decent prison places to replace old, expensive and unsuitable accommodation. This was reaffirmed by the Chancellor in the 2018 Budget, committing the Government to delivering the first two new prisons at Wellingborough and Glen Parva through public capital. Funding routes will be explored, including through private investment, for the delivery of the remaining prison places. The financing models, timetable and costs for these will be dependent on the relevant value for money and affordability tests, planning permissions and commercial negotiations.

We believe in a balanced approach to custodial services provision, which includes a mix of public, voluntary and private sector involvement. This approach has been shown to work, providing excellent services for the public and value for money for taxpayers.

Q
Asked by Janet Daby
(Lewisham East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Treasury
Tax Avoidance
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the 2019 Loan Charge on individuals that had made financial plans on the basis of previous arrangements; and what support he is able to provide to those individuals.
A
Answered by: Mel Stride
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The charge on disguised remuneration (DR) loans is targeted at artificial tax avoidance schemes where earnings were paid in the form of loans, often made by an offshore third party. These loans are not repaid in practice and so are no different to ordinary income and are, and always have been, taxable.

It is unfair to ordinary taxpayers to let anybody continue to benefit from contrived tax avoidance of this sort, and that is why this government has taken action to ensure that everybody pays the taxes they owe. The charge, announced at Budget 2016, will arise on 5 April 2019. By then affected users will have had three years to organise their financial affairs.

The Government recognises the charge on DR loans will have a significant impact on some individuals who have used DR schemes, particularly those who used them to avoid the most tax.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are working to help people put things right. HMRC have published a simplified process for DR scheme users to spread payment of the tax they owe over 5 years if their current income is less than £50,000, and they are no longer in avoidance. Those with higher incomes or who need to pay over a longer period can also request extended payment periods, which will be tailored to individual circumstances. Anyone who is worried about being able to pay what they owe should contact HMRC as soon as possible.

Q
Asked by Luke Pollard
(Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Veterinary Medicine: Migrant Workers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department to include vets on the shortage occupation list.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 16 November 2018

On the 15th June the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) accepted a commission from the Home Secretary to review the full composition of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) for the first time since 2013. The SOL covers non-EEA migration for highly skilled roles. The MAC will report in spring 2019.

In the meantime Defra continues to work closely with other Government Departments, including the Home Office, to ensure a long term strategy for the food and farming workforce, including veterinarians, as part of the future immigration policy.

Q
Asked by Luke Pollard
(Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pets: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what changes to the rabies regime he plans for domestic pets crossing the UK's borders in the event that the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Government has no immediate plans to change the rabies regime in the short term following the UK’s departure from the EU. For entry into the UK the current pet travel health requirements will continue to apply, although additional controls could be considered at a later date


The UK harmonised with the EU Pet Travel Scheme (PTS) rules in 2012. In 2011 we made an assessment of the risk of rabies introduction to the UK. This assessment concluded that the risk of an animal with rabies entering the UK under the PTS was very low. Since then, there have been no cases of rabies in pets entering the UK under the PTS. However, the Government continues to monitor the disease situation and will undertake a further formal risk assessment if evidence indicates that one is warranted.

When the UK leaves the EU it will be a third country. This means pet animals entering the EU from the UK would need to continue to follow the rules of the PTS. On 24 September this year a Technical Notice ‘Taking your pet abroad if there’s no Brexit deal’ was issued. On 6 November the Government issued follow up guidance and advice on Pet travel to Europe after Brexit in the unlikely event that the UK becomes an unlisted third country.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Separation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is provision in place to equalise universal credit entitlement when a couple separates.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 16 November 2018

When a couple separates and still require the support of Universal Credit they will claim separately and as such the two claimants will be treated as entirely separate claims and will have their entitlements and therefore award amounts treated accordingly.

If an advance has been awarded to a couple and the couple subsequently separate, they will be equally liable to repay the advance.

When a couple separates, and an advance has not been recovered from the associated benefit claim because the claim ends or there was no entitlement to that benefit, the outstanding balance is treated as if it were an overpayment. This would then be recoverable (as per Section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992) at the standard overpayment rate.

After separation, if a couple have an overpayment for which they are both equally liable, the debt is apportioned equally. Once this apportionment has been done we will not reverse the split liability decision. Any debt for which only one member of a couple is liable will follow that person on separation.

Grouped Questions: 188013 | 188014
Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Separation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department takes to ensure that there is a fair division when recovering advance payments when a couple separate.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 16 November 2018

When a couple separates and still require the support of Universal Credit they will claim separately and as such the two claimants will be treated as entirely separate claims and will have their entitlements and therefore award amounts treated accordingly.

If an advance has been awarded to a couple and the couple subsequently separate, they will be equally liable to repay the advance.

When a couple separates, and an advance has not been recovered from the associated benefit claim because the claim ends or there was no entitlement to that benefit, the outstanding balance is treated as if it were an overpayment. This would then be recoverable (as per Section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992) at the standard overpayment rate.

After separation, if a couple have an overpayment for which they are both equally liable, the debt is apportioned equally. Once this apportionment has been done we will not reverse the split liability decision. Any debt for which only one member of a couple is liable will follow that person on separation.

Grouped Questions: 188012 | 188014
Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Separation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department take steps to ensures that the remaining claimant of universal credit is not held fully responsible for unpaid advance payments when a couple separates.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 16 November 2018

When a couple separates and still require the support of Universal Credit they will claim separately and as such the two claimants will be treated as entirely separate claims and will have their entitlements and therefore award amounts treated accordingly.

If an advance has been awarded to a couple and the couple subsequently separate, they will be equally liable to repay the advance.

When a couple separates, and an advance has not been recovered from the associated benefit claim because the claim ends or there was no entitlement to that benefit, the outstanding balance is treated as if it were an overpayment. This would then be recoverable (as per Section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992) at the standard overpayment rate.

After separation, if a couple have an overpayment for which they are both equally liable, the debt is apportioned equally. Once this apportionment has been done we will not reverse the split liability decision. Any debt for which only one member of a couple is liable will follow that person on separation.

Grouped Questions: 188012 | 188013
Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Ministry of Justice
Legal Aid Scheme: Human Trafficking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing providing legal aid support to potentially trafficked people to ensure that they are able to make an informed decision on whether to enter the National Referral Mechanism.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 16 November 2018

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 November 2018 to question 188251.

Q
Asked by Stewart Hosie
(Dundee East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Developing Countries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will make an assessment of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the UK’s trading arrangements with developing countries.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Department for International Trade and the Department for International Development are working closely together to put global prosperity at the heart of the UKs future trade and development policy and to shape our future trading arrangements with these countries. Our first priority is to deliver continuity in these trading arrangements as we leave the EU, which is why the UK is seeking to replicate the effects of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

The Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act enables the UK to put in place a UK trade preferences scheme for developing countries. The Act also enshrines into UK law the commitment contained in the UN Sustainable Development Goals to provide duty free quota free trade access for Least Developed Countries. The UK trade preference scheme will, as a minimum, provide the same level of access as the current EU trade preference scheme by granting duty-free, quota-free access to 48 Least Developed Countries and by granting generous tariff reductions to around 25 other developing countries.

Q
Asked by Stewart Hosie
(Dundee East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether his Department plans to undertake (a) gender, (b) human rights and (c) sustainability impact assessments for future trade agreements.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The UK takes very seriously its obligations and priorities on gender equality, human rights and sustainability via, amongst other mechanisms, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Paris Agreement, the agreement of the UK’s Fifth Carbon Budget in July 2016 and actively supporting the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment at the World Trade Organization in 2017.

My Rt Hon. friend, the Secretary of State for International Trade, made a Statement to the House of Commons in July in which he committed the Government to publishing scoping assessments for any proposed new free trade agreement prior to the beginning of negotiations and publishing impact assessments of any concluded agreement prior to ratification.

The impact assessments will be consistent with the Government’s impact assessment process for new legislation, which considers environmental and social impacts where appropriate. These impact assessments will give due consideration to the effects of the concluded trade deals on different groups, including gender groups, in line with our requirements under the Equalities Act.

Q
Asked by Stewart Hosie
(Dundee East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Exports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what ethical considerations are undertaken by his Department in relation to the sale of arms and munitions to other countries; and what steps his Department takes to vet the award of arms export licences.
A
Answered by: Graham Stuart
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) of licences granted and refused for military exports on GOV.UK, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data

Export licence applications are carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. A licence would not be granted if to do so was inconsistent with the Criteria. The policy remains as announced to parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement on 25 March 2014 (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140325/wmstext/140325m0001.htm#14032566000018) and updated with an additional policy, as announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 13 September 2018 (https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-09-13/HCWS957/).

Grouped Questions: 188057
Q
Asked by Stewart Hosie
(Dundee East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for International Trade
UK Trade with EU
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment his Department has made of the economic importance of the UK’s trade with the EU.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 16 November 2018

In 2017 the UK’s total trade, in goods and services, with the EU totalled £617.4 billion or 49.1% of total UK trade.

The US was the UK’s largest single country trading partner accounting for £176.9 billion or 14.1% of total trade.

Q
Asked by Stewart Hosie
(Dundee East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Treasury
Customs
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department plans to take to help businesses manage (a) administrative and (b) tariff changes in UK customs after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Mel Stride
Answered on: 16 November 2018

As a responsible Government we continue to prepare for a range of outcomes and we are looking closely at how to ensure that businesses are clear on what they need to do and have the support they need to be as prepared as they can be in the time available, whilst not undermining the benefits of an implementation period.

HMRC has already published Technical Notices covering Customs, Excise and VAT procedures, and has written on no deal arrangements to the 145,000 UK business over the VAT threshold, who currently only trade with the EU. Later in the year we intend to provide more information on what businesses should do to prepare.

Q
Asked by Stewart Hosie
(Dundee East)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Saudi Arabia
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what types of munitions and arms have been traded to Saudi Arabia in each year since 2016.
A
Answered by: Graham Stuart
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) of licences granted and refused for military exports on GOV.UK, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data

Export licence applications are carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. A licence would not be granted if to do so was inconsistent with the Criteria. The policy remains as announced to parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement on 25 March 2014 (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140325/wmstext/140325m0001.htm#14032566000018) and updated with an additional policy, as announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 13 September 2018 (https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-09-13/HCWS957/).

Grouped Questions: 188053
Q
Asked by Ronnie Cowan
(Inverclyde)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Government news release of 1 October 2018 entitled Citizens Advice to provide support to Universal Credit claimants, how much funding she plans to allocate to Citizens Advice in Scotland to provide that support; and what plans she has to provide funding for areas that do not have a Citizens Advice office.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 16 November 2018

For Citizens Advice Scotland the grant award is £1,323,412 in 2018/19 and £4,085,919 in 2019/20. Citizens Advice Scotland is committed to providing a Universal Support service across Scotland

Q
(Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: West Midlands
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people her Department plans to migrate from employment support allowance to universal credit in (a) the West Midlands and (b) Birmingham, Edgbaston in (i) 2019-20, (ii) 2020-21, (iii) 2021-22 and (iv) 2022-23.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 16 November 2018

The requested information is not available by constituency or region.

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