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 2019-21 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
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Ministry of Defence
Oman: Armed Forces
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when his Department last revised its Directive to the Senior British Loan Service Officer in Oman; if he will publish that Directive; and whether that Directive permits British loan service personnel to engage in internal security operations in Oman.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 04 June 2020

I am withholding details of the Directive to the Senior British Loan Service Officer in Oman as disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another state.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 01 June 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Global Resource Initiative Taskforce
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish its response to the Final recommendations report of the Global Resource Initiative.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 04 June 2020

The Global Resource Initiative taskforce published its final recommendations report on 30 March. This report comes at a time of an unprecedented global challenge, and the priority of the UK Government must remain focused on supporting the response to COVID-19. The Government is committed, however, to addressing the major challenges identified in the report and providing global leadership on these issues which are also important in supporting a recovery that is based on solid foundations including a fairer, greener and more resilient global economy. We will be looking carefully at the report’s detailed recommendations and issue our formal response later this year.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 01 June 2020
Department for International Trade
Trade: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on environmental protection and human rights of maintaining (a) free trade and (b) open supply chains during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Mr Ranil Jayawardena
Answered on: 04 June 2020

Free trade has a vital role in addressing the immediate impact and resolving the longer-term effects of this pandemic. It is imperative that we keep our markets open to maintain the flow of essential goods and services, including medical products, which will protect lives and livelihoods.

HM Government intends to support Britain’s economy to become stronger, cleaner, and more resilient after this crisis. This will boost exports and create employment in the low-carbon industries of the future, while ensuring we address challenges including climate change and continue to protect the environment.

The United Kingdom has a strong history of promoting our values globally and we will continue to do so.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 29 May 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Forests: Energy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that domestic energy consumption does not contribute to global deforestation.
A
Answered by: Kwasi Kwarteng
Answered on: 04 June 2020

The UK only supports biomass for electricity generation which complies with strict sustainability criteria, and generating stations utilising biomass only receive subsidies in respect of compliant biomass. These criteria take into account of social, economic and environmental issues including protecting biodiversity, land use rights, sustainable harvesting and regeneration rates. They ensure that the carbon stock of the forest from which the pellets are derived is not decreased by requiring that biomass fuels are derived from forest waste wood and residues and that the forest owner adheres to relevant legal requirements to protect biodiversity and the environment.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 01 June 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to reduce the UK’s global environmental footprint.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 04 June 2020

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to support and protect the world’s forests, support sustainable agriculture and work towards zero-deforestation supply chains.

The UK is part of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership that aims to eliminate deforestation from agricultural commodity chains and supports a 100% sustainable palm oil supply chain in Europe.

Through International Climate Finance, Defra contributes to a joint pledge between the UK, Germany, and Norway to provide $5 billion to encourage ambitious action from developing countries to protect their forests and promote more sustainable patterns of land use.

The Government has established an independent taskforce, the Global Resource Initiative, to provide us with recommendations as to how we could support the efforts of producer countries to improve the sustainability of products and reduce deforestation. The taskforce recently published its final report that sets out an ambitious and strategic package of measures the Government could take to reduce the UK’s global environmental footprint, with a focus on forest risk commodities. We will be looking carefully at the report’s detailed recommendations and we will issue our formal response later this year.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 18 May 2020
Cabinet Office
Ministerial Responsibility
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 11 May 2020 to Question 43737 on Ministerial Responsibility, and with reference to the oral contribution of 6 May 2020 of the Leader of the House, Official Report, column 583 on Business Statement, on what date he plans to update the list of ministerial responsibilities published on GOV.UK, last updated in October 2019 and before the last ministerial reshuffle.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 02 June 2020

I refer the Hon. member to the answer given to PQ 43737 on 11 May 2020.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 18 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 test swabs have been sent for analysis overseas since the start of the outbreak of that disease.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 02 June 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 06 May 2020
Home Office
Immigration Controls: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask Secretary of State for the Home Office, what border controls will be put in place to restrict transmission of covid-19 as other countries begin to ease lockdown measures.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 26 May 2020

In order to keep overall levels of infection down, as the Government prepares for social contact to increase, a series of measures and restrictions will be introduced at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible.

The Government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK. Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government.

Further details, and guidance on measures including screening, will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Computer Software
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the protection of personal data within the coronavirus tracing app.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The app does not collect identifiable data from users. We have published a Data Protection Impact Assessment and Privacy Notice for the first phase of the app and will provide updates to these to keep app users fully informed if changes of the use of and access to data need to be made to continue to support the fight against COVID-19.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 29 April 2020
Department for Education
Students: Fees and Charges
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to rebate students on their university fees for the period of the covid-19 lockdown.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 13 May 2020

The government continues to work with the higher education (HE) sector to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies to the best of their abilities.

Universities offering high-quality tuition online will continue to charge fees. Fee loans are paid directly to higher education providers at the start of the third term. We are working closely with sector representative bodies to understand the impact of COVID-19 and the immediate financial implications for students and providers.

We only expect full tuition fees to be charged if online courses are of good quality, fit for purpose and help students progress towards their qualification. If universities want to charge full fees, they will have to ensure that the quality is there. The government has made it clear that, if providers are unable to deliver adequate online teaching, then it would be unacceptable for students to be charged for any additional terms, which would effectively mean that they were being charged twice.

The government is also working with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, professional bodies and the Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, to ensure that students continue to leave university with qualifications of value. The OfS has published guidance for registered providers about how it will approach the regulation of quality and standards during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is clear that standards must be maintained (further details are available at the following link): https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/guidance-for-providers-about-quality-and-standards-during-coronavirus-pandemic/. Actions that providers are taking now may continue to be required in the 2020-21 academic year if there is prolonged disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is important that students receive a good standard of education. Whether an individual student is entitled to a reduction of their fees will depend on specific contractual arrangements between the HE providers and the student.

If a student is concerned about their education, or about the steps that their provider has taken to respond to the situation, they should speak to their HE provider in the first instance. The government expects student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by institutions to resolve any concerns. Students who are not satisfied with their provider’s final response can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint if their institution is based in England or Wales.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Department for International Trade
BAE Systems: Inspections
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when her Department last used its powers under Article 31 of the Export Control Order 2008 to undertake an ad hoc inspection of BAE System’s weekly freighter flight from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire to Ta’if in Saudi Arabia; and what the outcome was of that inspection.
A
Corrected answer by: Mr Ranil Jayawardena
Corrected on: 13 May 2020
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 11 May 2020.
The correct answer should have been:

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences and not specific events such as regular freighter flights.

Their purpose is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences.

The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5 and 6 April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences, rather than specific events such as regular freighter flights.

The purpose of inspections is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences. The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5th and 6th April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

A
Answered by: Mr Ranil Jayawardena
Answered on: 11 May 2020

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences and not specific events such as regular freighter flights.

Their purpose is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences.

The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5 and 6 April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

Inspections of records under section 31 are in relation to a company’s use of general licences, rather than specific events such as regular freighter flights.

The purpose of inspections is to get assurance that users of general licences meet the terms and conditions of their licences. The frequency of inspections varies from six months to three years, taking into account the track record of compliance; types of licences utilised; knowledge and experience of the business in relation to export controls; and frequency of usage.

The BAE site at Warton was last inspected on 5th and 6th April 2017 and covered three separate BAE Systems companies. The outcome of compliance inspections is commercially sensitive.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 06 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of suspending the under-occupancy charge during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 12 May 2020

The Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) policy has helped to contain growing housing support expenditure, encourage mobility within the social rented sector, strengthen work-incentives and make better use of available social housing. There are currently no plans to change this policy. It would not be practical to make such temporary adjustments to the size criteria, which require regulatory changes, to reflect self-isolation or shielding when the household, property and rental costs have not changed.

Previously, Housing Benefit claimants who live in the social rented sector generally had their rents met in full and their entitlement was not affected by whether or not they under occupied their homes. However, this was no longer considered sustainable and from April 2013 Housing Benefit for working-age tenants in the social rented sector has been restricted. These restrictions apply where people live in a property that is too large for their needs.

As with all spending decisions difficult choices have to be made about priorities and where to focus additional resources. Those unable to meet a shortfall in their rent can seek assistance via the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHPs) scheme. DHPs can be paid to those in receipt of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who face a shortfall in meeting their rental housing costs.

In addition, we have just announced an extra £40 million for DHPs in 2020/21 in England and Wales.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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: 06 May 2020
Department for Education
Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether free school meal vouchers will continue to be offered throughout the (a) May half-term and (b) summer holidays.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 12 May 2020

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, during the Easter holidays the department met the costs of offering free school meals to eligible pupils not attending school during term time weeks. This was in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time. We currently have no plans to extend the scheme into future holiday periods.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure the maintenance of labour (a) supply and (b) standards in the farming industry during covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Victoria Prentis
Answered on: 11 May 2020

(Part A)

The ongoing impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak have meant that there will be a shortfall in the numbers of workers who usually travel to the UK from Europe to work during the harvest season, with the demand for workers peaking from late May through the summer.

Farming leaders have already kick-started a recruitment drive for work on farms, with thousands of British people already expressing an interest in picking up seasonal agricultural work over the coming weeks and months. With many British workers furloughed from their jobs, and students having to put their summer plans on hold, the Government is supporting industry efforts to help farmers bring in this year’s harvest, working to build on these numbers.

The majority of roles for the early part of the harvest season have already been filled. We are closely monitoring the situation and we will shortly be launching a public- facing campaign to highlight the roles available from late May onwards and to encourage people to apply. The Government has confirmed that those who have been furloughed from their jobs due to coronavirus, and who are contractually allowed to work for another employer, can take on this seasonal work.

A new government-industry digital hub for seasonal work information and job opportunities has been launched to provide guidance on getting into farm work and links to the available jobs and recruiters. The website can be found at pickforbritain.org.uk and will be updated regularly over the coming weeks to help match jobs to workers as the demand grows.

(Part B)

The UK is proud of its world-leading standards of food safety, environmental protection and animal health and welfare. We will not compromise our standards nor put the UK’s biosecurity at risk whatever the circumstances.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
RAF Akrotiri
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for what reason BAE Systems’s weekly freighter flight from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire to Ta’if in Saudi Arabia routinely goes via RAF Akrotiri; and what interaction personnel at RAF Akrotiri have with the aircraft, its passengers and its cargo.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

These BAE Systems operated flights provide logistics support for UK-supplied aircraft and systems operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force, which play a key role in the defence and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These flights night-stop at RAF Akrotiri, both inbound and outbound from Saudi Arabia, for the wellbeing of the crew, to refuel and to assure the security of the aircraft and its cargo.

These flights do not carry passengers, nor is cargo loaded or off-loaded at RAF Akrotiri. During the present Covid-19 crisis the crews are provided with dedicated on-base accommodation, which allows them to be isolated fully from RAF Akrotiri personnel.

Grouped Questions: 43124 | 43203
Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
BAE Systems: Freight
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what cargo on carried by BAE Systems’s weekly freighter flight from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire to Ta’if in Saudi Arabia via RAF Akrotiri.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

These BAE Systems operated flights provide logistics support for UK-supplied aircraft and systems operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force, which play a key role in the defence and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These flights night-stop at RAF Akrotiri, both inbound and outbound from Saudi Arabia, for the wellbeing of the crew, to refuel and to assure the security of the aircraft and its cargo.

These flights do not carry passengers, nor is cargo loaded or off-loaded at RAF Akrotiri. During the present Covid-19 crisis the crews are provided with dedicated on-base accommodation, which allows them to be isolated fully from RAF Akrotiri personnel.

Grouped Questions: 43123 | 43203
Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Iraq: Military Intervention
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Royal Air Force’s airstrike against Daesh in an isolated location west of Tuz Khurma in Northern Iraq on 10 April 2020 was in response to an attack by Daesh on Hashd al-Shaabi fighters in the district of Tuz Khurma on that day, and whether Hashd al-Shaabi requested that air strike.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The Royal Air Force airstrike on 10 April 2020 was not in response to an attack by Daesh on fighters from the Popular Mobilisation Forces, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, and it was not in response to a request from that organisation.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Oman: Military Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Government has an agreement to provide pilots for (a) non-combat and (b) combat situations for the Typhoon aircraft purchased by the Royal Air Force of Oman from BAE Systems.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

The UK provides fewer than five RAF Typhoon pilots in role to serve on Loan Service. The Loan Service team is in place across the Sultan's Armed Forces to deliver advice, capability development and training directly to the Sultan's Armed Forces and is employed in a variety of roles to achieve this.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
Asked on: 04 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Oman: Air Force
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many UK personnel serve with the Royal Air Force of Oman’s (a) No. 8 Squadron and (b) No. 6 Squadron; and what the (i) rank and (ii) task is of those personnel.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

Under the Loan Service agreement with Oman, the UK currently has fewer than five Loan Service personnel working with No. 8 and No. 6 Squadron. I am withholding the exact number of UK personnel to mitigate the risk of them being identified by the information provided. I am also withholding details relating to rank and role as disclosure would, or would likely, prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another state.

Q
(Brighton, Kemptown)
[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 May 2020
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 14 January 2014 to Question 182081, if he will list the current appointments of all British forces personnel to foreign armed forces and governments by rank and task.
A
Answered by: James Heappey
Answered on: 11 May 2020

I am withholding the information as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.

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