Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Department for International Trade
Department for International Trade: Former Ministers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how much his Department has paid to hon. Members under section 4 of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 since 13 July 2016.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 21 May 2019

Any such payments are published in the Department’s audited annual report and accounts, and these accounts can be found on gov.uk.

Q
(Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Former Ministers
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how much his Department has paid to hon. Members under section 4 of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 since 13 July 2016.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 21 May 2019

Any such payments are published in the Department’s audited annual accounts, and these accounts can be found on gov.uk.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Scotland Office
Scotland Office: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, how many staff in his Department who were transferred or seconded to work (a) in other departments or (b) on other departmental briefs on preparations for the UK to leave the EU, have since returned to his Department.
A
Answered by: David Mundell
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Office of The Secretary of State for Scotland does not employ staff directly. All staff that join, do so on assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies, who remain the employers.

EU Exit is an all-of-government operation. The Department for Exiting the European Union is responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and EU. The Department for International trade works to secure UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.

Departments continually review workforce plans, reprioritise and assess changing needs, which includes identification and cessation of non-priority work where appropriate. We have accelerated our plans, and at the same time, the Civil Service as a whole is working to ensure that EU Exit Implementation is carried out to high quality without impacting public service delivery across the whole of government.

Q
Asked by Tom Brake
(Carshalton and Wallington)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Attorney General
Attorney General: Brexit
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, how many staff of his Department who were transferred or seconded to work (a) in other Departments and (b) on other departmental briefs on preparations for the UK to leave the EU have since returned to his Department.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The Attorney General’s Office had one employee who joined DExEU on loan to support work on preparations for the UK to leave the EU. The employee subsequently moved permanently to another department and will not return to the Attorney General’s Office.

Q
Asked by Neil Gray
(Airdrie and Shotts)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Treasury
Employment
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what progress his Department has made on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8 to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
A
Answered by: Robert Jenrick
Answered on: 21 May 2019

The UK has made strong progress in recent years on key priorities within Goal 8, including delivering record low unemployment levels, championing small businesses, reforming the financial services sector, and enhancing the role of women in work.

A number of challenges remain, including raising the UK’s productivity, tackling climate change, and ensuring Good Work for all.

The forthcoming Voluntary National Review will set out in greater detail the UK’s progress against all of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Q
Asked by Faisal Rashid
(Warrington South)
Asked on: 14 May 2019
Treasury
Beer: Excise Duties
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will reduce beer duty in Budget 2019.
A
Answered by: Robert Jenrick
Answered on: 21 May 2019

This government remains clear in its support for consumers, pubs and breweries, and we have taken action to this end – ensuring the price of a pint of beer is 14p is lower than it otherwise would have been since ending the beer duty escalator in 2013.

All taxes are kept under review and the impact of a change to beer duty is considered at each fiscal event, including its effect on pubs and the wider economy.

Q
(Coventry South)
[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: 16 May 2019
Department for International Development
Developing Countries: Sex and Relationship Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps his Department is taking to promote sex education in developing countries.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 21 May 2019

Sex and relationships education both in and/or outside of school is important to ensuring not only sexual and reproductive health but wider gender equality issues. DFID’s 2018 Education Policy commits us, working with national governments, to promote appropriate sex and relationships education in schools to enable informed choices. Through our support to UNESCO, UNFPA and the Global Financing Facility, we support governments to address sexuality education in schools and through community-based training and outreach.

Q
Asked by Luke Hall
(Thornbury and Yate)
Asked on: 11 January 2019
Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
Political Parties: Fines
Commons
To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 7 January 2019 to Question 203928 and the Answer of 8 January 2019 to Question 205307, on Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000: Fines, if the Speaker's Committee will undertake a review of whether it is an appropriate and proportionate enforcement policy practice by the Electoral Commission for a political party to be fined £6,000 for submitting a quarterly reporting one day after the deadline.
A
Answered by: Bridget Phillipson
Answered on: 20 May 2019

It is not the remit of the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, as set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, to scrutinise the Electoral Commission’s enforcement policies.

Parliament made it an offence to deliver, without reasonable excuse, donation reports that are inaccurate or miss the statutory deadline. Parliament gave the Commission investigation and sanction powers for these, and other, offences. Parliament also set out a legal right of appeal for those sanctioned by the Commission, including on the grounds that the amount of the penalty is unreasonable.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the Maltese Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government about the progress of the investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Home Secretary raised the issue with his counterpart last November and it was raised again by our High Commissioner with both the Home Affairs and Justice Ministers in March this year. Most recently, the Foreign Secretary discussed the case with the Maltese Foreign Minister on 13 May.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Maltese Governor’s commitment to (1) bring the murderers of Daphne Caruana Galizia to justice, and (2) uphold its obligations to guarantee and safeguard freedom of expression in Malta as required by the European Convention on Human Rights.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

​The Maltese Government has provided reassurances both in public and private that all efforts are being made to ensure justice will be served in this case. Three suspects have been arrested and will stand trial. The police investigation, supported by Europol, continues to pursue lines of enquiry to identify those behind the murder. On freedom of expression, last year’s Media and Defamation Act, aims to strengthen legal protections for journalists in Malta. The Maltese Government has also expressed early interest in joining the Foreign Secretary’s Media Freedom Conference in July, as a further demonstration of Malta’s resolve to work with international partners to increase the protection of journalists and of freedom of expression.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have raised the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia at the (1) EU Foreign Affairs Council, and (2) Commonwealth Secretariat; and if so, what the outcomes of those discussions were.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

​As there are ongoing police and judicial processes taking place in Malta, the UK Government has not therefore raised the case at the EU Foreign Affairs Council or with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Companies: Insolvency
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent retailers in the water market who sell to SME customers from failing.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

When considering applications from potential retailers, Ofwat, the economic regulator for the water industry, considers whether it would have sufficient financial resources to finance its obligations under the law and to deliver its business plan. Once the retailer enters the market, it is for the retailer to ensure it operates efficiently and is able to continue to operate. In any functioning market some retailers will fail. If a retailer were to fail, as has been seen in other sectors, Ofwat would step in and ensure affected customers are allocated to a new supplier in a seamless way.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Companies: Competition
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment has been made by (1) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and (2) Ofwat of the (a) Scottish SME non-household retail water market, and (b) the English SME non-household retail water market.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (a) undertook some analysis of the Scottish SME non-household retail water market during the initial planning stages of opening up the English market; and (b) works closely with Ofwat as they review the English non-household retail market and its operation since opening, including with regard to SMEs.

Ofwat monitors and assesses the non-household retail water market in England on an ongoing basis. It commissioned customer research to gauge directly customers’ experiences of the market, including views on the interactions between the markets in England, Scotland and Wales. This information was published in July 2018 as the Ofwat customer insight survey.

Ofwat’s first annual assessment of the market, Open for Business, also published in July 2018, highlighted a number of areas in which to achieve better outcomes for business customers in England, including SMEs.

Grouped Questions: HL15552
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Companies: Competition
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the Scottish non-household retail water market in encouraging switching by SMEs when compared with the English non-household retail water market.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (a) undertook some analysis of the Scottish SME non-household retail water market during the initial planning stages of opening up the English market; and (b) works closely with Ofwat as they review the English non-household retail market and its operation since opening, including with regard to SMEs.

Ofwat monitors and assesses the non-household retail water market in England on an ongoing basis. It commissioned customer research to gauge directly customers’ experiences of the market, including views on the interactions between the markets in England, Scotland and Wales. This information was published in July 2018 as the Ofwat customer insight survey.

Ofwat’s first annual assessment of the market, Open for Business, also published in July 2018, highlighted a number of areas in which to achieve better outcomes for business customers in England, including SMEs.

Grouped Questions: HL15551
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cyprus: Peace Negotiations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Report of the Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, submitted to the UN Security Council on 16 April; and what assessment they have made of the preparedness of the Greek Cypriot political community to agree a solution on the basis of political equality with the Turkish Cypriot community within the framework of UN parameters following the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriot electorate and the failure of the Crans-Montana talks.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

​The UK is grateful for the ongoing work of the Secretary General and his good offices on the island, as we are to Ms Jane Holl Lute for her ongoing consultations with the parties. We endorse the Secretary-General's view that prospects for a settlement remain alive, as reaffirmed in his April report. We echo his calls for the leaders to engage constructively, creatively and with the necessary sense of urgency. We also welcome the UN Security Council's recent call for the two sides to agree terms of reference as a basis for meaningful result-orientated negotiations.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review their decision to dismiss Sir Roger Scruton from his post as Chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, in the light of reports that his opinions have been misrepresented.
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is an independent body that will advise Government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new-build homes and neighbourhoods. In the light of the recent decision to discontinue the role of Sir Roger Scruton as Chair of the Commission, the Secretary of State will be selecting and announcing a new Chair in due course. In the meantime, the work of the Commission will continue with Nicholas Boys Smith as interim Chair, with the aim of producing an interim report to the Secretary of State in July and final report in December.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Furniture: Fire Resistant Materials
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they taking to comply with the Stockholm Agreement and other agreements on the control of hazardous chemicals for any UK upholstered furniture containing a number of persistent organic pollutants with no available information or register of their chemical composition, in particular, flame retardants.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The UK has some of the most rigorous chemical regulations in the world. The Government implements the Stockholm Convention through EU Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Chemicals in use also have to go through assessments under the REACH Regulation (No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). All furniture placed on the market in the UK must comply with these regulations.

We are committed to improving traceability of chemicals in products and waste and are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on this.

Specifically, the Government is reviewing the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 and has consulted on whether to introduce a specific requirement for furniture labels to stipulate any flame retardants used in their manufacture. The Government’s response to the consultation will be published in due course.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Business Confidence Monitor Q2 2019, published in May, which suggests a decline in confidence of UK businesses due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The latest ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) shows that business confidence has not fallen significantly this quarter.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy picked up in the first three months of the year - Growth was 0.5% in the quarter, up from 0.2% in the previous three months. The employment rate (16-64) remained at 76.1%– at a record high. Employment increased by 99,000 on the quarter, standing at 32.7m – remaining broadly unchanged on the last labour market statistics release.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Biodiversity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to remain closely aligned with the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy after Brexit; and if not, what plans they have to implement a long-term post-Brexit strategy on biodiversity.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Government is committed to ensuring that, when the UK leaves the EU, our existing environmental protections are maintained and, where possible, enhanced. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act ensures that the whole body of existing EU environmental law, including the Habitats and the Wild Birds Directives, continues to have effect in UK law following our departure from the EU.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy implements commitments to halt biodiversity loss agreed in 2010 by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Biodiversity policy is devolved in the UK. In England, those same international commitments to halt biodiversity loss are implemented through the Biodiversity 2020 Strategy and related documents such as the National Pollinator Strategy.

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, we committed to developing a new strategy for nature to replace Biodiversity 2020. Our intention is to publish this strategy in early 2021 to take forward the new international commitments for biodiversity, in particular the new global biodiversity framework, to be agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity, in 2020. It will also set out in more detail how we intend to take forward the ambitions for nature in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Under the new strategy, the Government will continue to work towards, among other things, clean, safe, healthy, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas; and on land, restoring 75% of our protected sites to favourable condition by 2042 and establishing a Nature Recovery Network. The Nature Recovery Network will expand and connect wildlife rich habitat by developing landscape scale partnerships to manage land in a way that supports the recovery of our much loved wildlife.

Q
Asked by John Healey
(Wentworth and Dearne)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Construction
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the he National Audit's Office press release of 2 May 2019, Investigation into the government’s land disposal strategy and programmes, and its assertion that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government expects departments to have released enough land for around 65,000 homes by 2020, against a target of at least 160,000, what the evidential basis is for his Department's estimated performance against that target.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The estimate is based on department’s risk based assessment of their disposal opportunities in the Public Land for Housing programme. The Public Land for Housing programme (2015-20) Programme Handbook for Departments and Arm’s Length Bodies August 2018 sets out how risk ratings are defined, and provides guidance on monitoring, reporting and evidence keeping for the programme. All departments actively manage their pipeline of sites for disposal and apply appropriate risk ratings and mitigation strategies. The Programme Handbook is available via the gov.uk webpages.

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