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
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 16 July 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Low Incomes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has plans for a hardship fund to help people on the lowest incomes in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 22 August 2019

The Government has been clear that leaving the EU with a deal is its preferred option. However, as a responsible government we continue to plan for a range of exit scenarios, including a no-deal. The welfare system provides a strong safety net. A system of hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans will be available for those who need them.

Asked on: 11 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Ministers: Languages
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what language training they provide to ministers with international portfolios.
A
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not provide language training to ministers with international portfolios as a matter of course, but ministers can apply for FCO language training if they need it to conduct Government business.

Asked on: 16 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Surveillance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that British investors hold shares in Chinese surveillance companies accused of contributing to human rights abuses.
A
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The British Government has not undertaken analysis of British investor shareholdings in Chinese surveillance companies.

Asked on: 16 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Surveillance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that UK investors hold shares totalling £800 million in companies that supply CCTV and facial-recognition technology used to track Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
A
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The British Government has not undertaken analysis of British investor shareholdings in Chinese surveillance companies. However, we are aware of the recent reports.

Q
Asked by Sandy Martin
(Ipswich)
Asked on: 17 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Packaging: Innovation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what R&D support his Department provides to small- and medium-sized enterprises for innovation in packaging.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

This Government is building a globally competitive sustainable packaging industry through research and innovation. As confirmed on Monday 22 July 2019, the Department will provide up to £60 million, bolstered by an expected £149m investment from the private sector, to establish the UK as the world’s leading innovator in smart sustainable plastic packaging.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Brexit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for copyright in the event of a no deal Brexit have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

Copyright is largely harmonised internationally by a number of treaties to which the UK is signatory. This means that much of the copyright framework in the UK is not dependent on membership of the EU and will remain intact when we leave.

However, some UK copyright law is derived from the EU copyright framework; hence there are references in UK law to the “EU”, the “EEA”, and “Member States”. Some of these references arise from the UK’s implementation of certain EU cross-border copyright mechanisms. These are unique to the EU and provide reciprocal protections and benefits between Member States, covering areas such as cross-border portability of online content services, sui generis database rights, and copyright clearance for satellite broadcasting.

To ensure UK copyright law functions properly if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Government introduced The Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. This removes or corrects references to the EU, EEA, or Member States in UK copyright legislation to preserve the effect of UK law where possible. For reciprocal cross-border mechanisms where continuing to extend provisions to the EU on a unilateral basis after exit would adversely affect those in the UK, we are limiting the mechanisms to operate on a purely domestic basis or bringing them to an end, as appropriate. Guidance for stakeholders has been published alongside this.

Although the UK is leaving the EU, UK and EU copyright works (e.g. books, films and music) will continue to be protected in the EU and UK respectively because of the international treaties on copyright (e.g. the Berne Convention and the TRIPS Agreement), which require all treaty countries to protect works originating in any other treaty country to a minimum standard. Our participation in these treaties does not depend on our membership of the EU.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Intellectual Property
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for exhaustion of intellectual property rights in the event of a no deal Brexit have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

In preparation for a no deal Brexit, the Government prepared secondary legislation to provide for a temporary unilateral EEA exhaustion regime. The Intellectual Property (Exhaustion of Rights) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 was approved by Parliament in February 2019.

The Government also published guidance, in the form of a technical notice on GOV.UK in September 2018 for businesses and consumers to prepare for a no deal scenario.

The Government continues to engage with stakeholders on this issue in preparation for a possible no deal Brexit.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Patents
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for patents in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

As set out in the technical notice, the Government’s primary goal is to ensure that the UK patent system continues to function effectively in the event of a no deal exit. This requires a small amount of legislative change. In February 2019, Parliament approved the Patents (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which corrected deficiencies in retained EU law relating to patents. The Government has since published guidance for business on these changes. It continues to engage with stakeholders on the impacts of exit and preparation for a no deal scenario.

A further statutory instrument is required to address inoperabilities in a new piece of patents-related EU legislation which entered into force earlier this month. A public call for views on the drafting of this instrument opened on 5 July 2019.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Design and Trade Marks
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, what parts of the plan for trademarks and design in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The main plank of preparation for no deal was legislation to ensure the continued protection of registered EU trade marks and designs, and to correct deficiencies in, and failures of, retained EU law to ensure it operates effectively after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Parliament approved the Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations, and the Designs and International Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations earlier this year. The Government has since published further guidance for businesses and consumers. It continues to engage with stakeholders on the impacts of exit and preparation for a no deal scenario.

The IPO has also completed a significant programme of work to ensure that its systems are ready to accommodate the additional requirements resulting from the legislation.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Internet
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to his Department's Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, which parts of the Government’s plan for geo-blocking online content in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The Government’s plan for geo-blocking online content in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal has been implemented through the Geo-Blocking Regulation (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were made on 18 April 2019. These Regulations will come into effect on Exit Day as defined in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, section 20.

Guidance for businesses has also been published, in the form of the following technical notice: ‘Geo-blocking of online content if there’s no Brexit deal’. This was published on 12 October 2018 and is available at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/geo-blocking-of-online-content-if-theres-no-brexit-deal.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
[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: 19 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nuclear Power: Research
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to his Department's Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal, which parts of the Government’s plan for nuclear research in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The Government has taken significant steps to protect UK leadership in nuclear R&D in the event of a no deal.

Key bilateral agreements have been put in place to facilitate continued research collaboration with countries including Canada and the USA, and a major funding extension (until the end of 2020) for the UK-based JET fusion research facility has been agreed with the European Commission. Similarly, the executive council of the France-based ITER fusion project agreed in November 2018 to maintain UK employment and commercial contracts until their agreed end date in a no deal.

Successful, competitive UK funding bids submitted under the Euratom Research & Training Programme before the end of 2020 have also been guaranteed by the UK Government, and close working with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is ongoing to ensure we are ready to deliver this funding from exit day if required.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Research: International Cooperation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to facilitate international collaboration on research and development after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The UK’s aim is to be the partner of choice on international research and innovation. The International Research and Innovation Strategy sets out how we will achieve this by deepening international engagement, partnerships and practical collaboration.

There are strong links between the UK and EU’s research and innovation communities, with a long track record of jointly tackling global challenges. We are working to ensure that collaboration can continue in any scenario, including the funding commitment made under the Horizon 2020 guarantee and extension.

We are exploring association to the Horizon Europe programme, as well as considering alternative options as part of a review of the future UK funding landscape. International funding will be an important component in implementing the UK International Research and Innovation Strategy.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Research: Expenditure
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that all regions of the UK benefit from the target in the Industrial Strategy of spending 2.4 per cent of GDP on research and development by 2027.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

Through our Modern Industrial Strategy we committed to increasing R&D investment across the economy to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, which would be the highest recorded level, and 3% in the longer-term.

We know that there are significant clusters of R&D strengths in all regions and nations of the UK.

The Government confirmed in the 2018 Budget that the Strength in Places Fund is to receive a further £120m to bring the fund budget for the period up to 2021/22 to £236m. The fund brings together research organisations, businesses, and local leadership on projects that will lead to significant economic impact, high-value job creation and regional growth.

Q
Asked by Chuka Umunna
(Streatham)
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Space Technology
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what parts of the Government’s plan for satellites and space programmes in the event of a no deal Brexit have been implemented.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The Government remains focused on ensuring a smooth and orderly withdrawal from the EU with a negotiated agreement. However, as a responsible Government, we have actively prepared for every eventuality, including a ‘No Deal’ scenario.

The technical notice published by the Government on satellites and space programmes, set out information to allow the space sector to understand what actions would be required in a ‘No Deal’ scenario. The UK Space Agency are developing options to maintain UK capability and support the space sector, including the assessment of options for the design and development of a UK global satellite navigation system as a potential alternative to the EU’s Galileo space programme.

Q
Asked by Kirstene Hair
(Angus)
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
UK Research Partnership Investment Fund: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the latest round of funding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund will be allocated to projects in Scotland; and how much private investment will be leveraged for those projects.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund is a competitive research capital programme to support strategic research and development collaborations between universities, businesses and charities. It is managed by Research England, working with counterparts from devolved funding bodies, and only supports large scale infrastructure projects which are built on demonstrable research excellence, value for money, and can generate at least double in private co-investment.

Since 2012 over £900m of science and research capital has been committed from the Fund to 54 projects which have secured an initial commitment of over £2bn in private investment. No projects were awarded to universities in Scotland from the latest round. In the first 5 rounds, £58.98m was committed to 5 projects in Scotland which collectively secured over £121m of private co-investment. This represents 6.5% of total funding allocated and 5.5% of the initial private co-investment.

Grouped Questions: 281065
Q
Asked by Kirstene Hair
(Angus)
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
UK Research Partnership Investment Fund: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of funding from all rounds of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund has been allocated to projects in Scotland; and how much private investment has been committed to those projects.
A
Answered by: Joseph Johnson
Answered on: 21 August 2019

The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund is a competitive research capital programme to support strategic research and development collaborations between universities, businesses and charities. It is managed by Research England, working with counterparts from devolved funding bodies, and only supports large scale infrastructure projects which are built on demonstrable research excellence, value for money, and can generate at least double in private co-investment.

Since 2012 over £900m of science and research capital has been committed from the Fund to 54 projects which have secured an initial commitment of over £2bn in private investment. No projects were awarded to universities in Scotland from the latest round. In the first 5 rounds, £58.98m was committed to 5 projects in Scotland which collectively secured over £121m of private co-investment. This represents 6.5% of total funding allocated and 5.5% of the initial private co-investment.

Grouped Questions: 281064
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Ministry of Defence
Armed Forces
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government by how much (1) the Royal Navy, (2) the army, and (3) the Royal Air Force, are under strength.
A
Corrected answer by: Baroness Goldie
Corrected on: 20 August 2019
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 02 August 2019.
The correct answer should have been:

The current strength of the Armed Forces as at 1 April 2019 is given in the table below:

Service

Trained Strength

Workforce Requirement

Royal Navy/Royal Marines

29,224

30,568

Army

75,070

82,000

Royal Air Force

30,010

31,756

Trained Strength comprises military personnel who have completed Phase 1 and 2 training for Royal Navy/Royal Marines, the Army (prior to 1 October 2016) and the Royal Air Force. Following the change in definition of trained strength for Army, from 1 October 2016, trained strength for the Army comprises of personnel who have completed Phase 1 training.

The Ministry of Defence remains committed to maintaining the overall size of the Armed Forces and we have a range of measures under way to improve recruitment and retention. The challenge is kept under constant review.

Importantly the Services continue to meet all their current commitments, keeping the country and its interests safe.

The strength of the Armed Forces is published every three months and can be found in the UK Armed Forces Quarterly Service Personnel Statistics at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/quarterly-service-personnel-statistics-2019

A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 02 August 2019

The current strength of the Armed Forces as at 1 April 2019 is given in the table below:

Service

Trained Strength

Workforce Requirement

Royal Navy/Royal Marines

29,224

30,568

Army

75,070

82,000

Royal Air Force

30,010

31,756

Trained Strength comprises military personnel who have completed Phase 1 and 2 training for Royal Navy/Royal Marines, the Army (prior to 1 October 2016) and the Royal Air Force. Following the change in definition of trained strength for Army, from 1 October 2016, trained strength for the Army comprises of personnel who have completed Phase 1 training.

The Ministry of Defence remains committed to maintaining the overall size of the Armed Forces and we have a range of measures under way to improve recruitment and retention. The challenge is kept under constant review.

Importantly the Services continue to meet all their current commitments, keeping the country and its interests safe.

The strength of the Armed Forces is published every three months and can be found in the UK Armed Forces Quarterly Service Personnel Statistics at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/quarterly-service-personnel-statistics-2019

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
[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: 22 July 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
North of Tyne Combined Authority
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to devolve further powers on (a) transport and (b) employment to the North of Tyne Combined Authority.
A
Answered by: Jake Berry
Answered on: 19 August 2019
Holding answer received on 25 July 2019

The Government intends to level up the powers offered to mayors. An Order devolving adult education functions to the North of Tyne Combined Authority is already before Parliament. Subject to Parliamentary agreement, from the 2020/21 academic year the combined authority and their elected Mayor will be able to better shape adult education provision and so better equip residents for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

Q
Asked by Lord Grocott
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 17 July (HL16983), what are the job descriptions of each Trade Envoy; whether any assessment has been made of their effectiveness in relation to the terms of their appointment; and whether those envoys are accountable to (1) the Prime Minister, (2) the Secretary of State for International Trade, (3) the Foreign Secretary, or (4) another Cabinet minister.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 16 August 2019

The Terms of Appointment for the Programme provide the framework to which Trade Envoys work to. They outline Trade Envoys’ roles and responsibilities when undertaking Trade Envoy duties, as well as outlining the Department for International Trade commitment to them. Under the Terms of Appointment, they are appointed for the term of a parliament, after which the sitting Prime Minister will decide whether to keep the current cadre in their role.

Trade Envoys regularly help UK business secure export successes, by either lobbying on their behalf, or helping to create the environment for them to succeed.

Trade Envoys are appointed by the Prime Minister and are ultimately accountable to the Prime Minister, though they regularly report specific issues to other Ministers as necessary.

Q
Asked by Lord Grocott
Asked on: 22 July 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 17 July (HL16983), whether the Trade Envoys are answerable to Parliament either (1) directly, (2) via a minister, or (3) not at all.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 16 August 2019

Trade Envoys comprised of parliamentarians drawn from both Houses are answerable to Parliament via direct line of report to my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade who is accountable for the programme.

Although the Trade Envoy role is not a ministerial appointment and does not carry formal policy responsibility the Trade Envoys are under the same obligation as Ministers to adhere to the relevant departmental restrictions, guidelines and confidentiality clauses.

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