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 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 on: 24 June 2019
Ministry of Defence
Army: Apprentices
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to recruit Junior Soldiers to cyber apprenticeships.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 04 July 2019

Junior soldiers are signed up for an apprenticeship when they join, which will be specific to the trade they wish to specialise in. The Army does not currently offer a 'Cyber' apprenticeship but does offer other apprenticeships relevant to those who work in this area.

Cyber security is vital to defence and training our personnel is of paramount importance to us. The Defence Cyber School, which celebrated its first-year anniversary in March, is a centre of excellence for cyber training established to meet the needs of defence and its partners, addressing all aspects of cyber training and education.

Q
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Saudi Arabia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they approve export licences for the supply of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Answered on: 03 July 2019

The Department for International Trade is responsible for licensing the export of arms and military equipment. All export licence applications for arms exports to Saudi Arabia are approved where they are assessed to be consistent with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria which were announced to Parliament by the then Business Secretary on 25 March 2014. All relevant information, from a wide range of sources, is taken into account when assessing export licence applications, including the capability of the equipment to be exported, the end-user and stated end-use, and the risk of misuse or diversion to undesirable end-users.

Q
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Disinformation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to combat advances in digital technology to counter difficult-to-detect digital manipulations of audio or video recordings.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 03 July 2019

The Government recognises the challenges and potential dangers of digitally manipulated content. We are considering these issues carefully as part of the Government’s plan to tackle wider forms of online manipulation and disinformation.

Our Online Harms White Paper sets out the actions we expect companies to take to limit the spread of disinformation on their platforms.

Q
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Cabinet Office
Public Sector: Staff
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what is the percentage breakdown of public sector employees by (1) gender, and (2) ethnicity, for each region of the United Kingdom.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 28 June 2019

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

Dear Viscount Waverley,


As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what the percentage breakdown of public sector employees is by (1) gender, and (2) ethnicity for each region of the United Kingdom (HL164444).


Estimates of employees by sector of employment are available from the Annual Population Survey (APS), a household survey of people in the UK. In the APS, the distinction between public and private sector is based on respondents’ views about the organisation for which they work. This may differ from how we would classify them for the headline measure of public sector employment. The APS also collects information regarding respondents’ sex and ethnicity.

Table 1 contains estimates of the percentage of public sector employees broken down by sex within each region. Table 2 contains estimates of the percentage of public sector employees broken down by ethnicity within each region. Both breakdowns use APS data for April 2018 to March 2019, the latest period for which data are available.

As the data are quite extensive, copy of both tables have been placed in the House of Commons Library.


Yours sincerely,


John Pullinger

UKSA Final Response (Excel SpreadSheet, 16.02 KB)
Q
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to limit (1) the distance that drones may travel, and (2) the height that drones may reach to 125 metres, to reduce the risk of potential issues in airspace.
A
Answered on: 27 June 2019

The Air Navigation Order 2016 already prohibits flying small unmanned aircraft beyond the line of sight or above 400ft, which is just over 121 metres, without permission or an exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Home Office
Surveillance: Unmanned Air Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the use of drones on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, piracy, kidnappings and other offences combatted by surveillance technologies.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

Decisions to use drones and in which circumstances are operational matters for the Police and other law enforcement agencies.

Q
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce regulations that require manufacturers to have a signalling beacon on all (1) drones, and (2) other flying toys.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have published new product standards for drones which will become fully applicable by 2022. Some of these standards include the mandatory requirement for drones to be fitted with a geo-awareness software before being placed on the market. This software will notify the pilot when the drone is entering a restricted zone and when it’s coming close to other aircraft. This new requirement will ensure that our airspace is safely shared and managed more effectively to maintain the UK’s strong air safety record.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Business: Cybercrime
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance and support they provide to businesses in relation to cyber security; and whether they intend to introduce systems for businesses to assess the adequacy of (1) their protection against cyber threats, and (2) their cyber security skills.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was created in 2016 as part of the Government's five-year, £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy and provides guidance and support to businesses and public sector organisations on all matters relating to cyber security. This includes the Small Business Guide, a Response and Recovery guide, a toolkit for Boards and an "Exercise In a Box" to help organisations assess their cyber resilience. Through the Cyber Essentials Scheme, companies are already able to assess whether they have put in place security measures to protect themselves against the majority of untargeted cyber attacks.

We are undertaking a comprehensive review of the UK’s cyber regulatory and incentives landscape. This builds on our last review in 2016, to understand what has worked well, and where further action is needed to drive the necessary improvements in cyber security behaviours and practices. This will be done with acknowledgement of the broader asks being placed on business as we look to grow and secure the digital economy. It will include consideration of whether and how businesses should be required to assess the adequacy of their cyber security and whether they have the skills they need to manage cyber security risk.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commonwealth: Trade
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK High Commissioner or a trade official attended the recent Commonwealth SME Summit in Nairobi; if not, why not; and if so, what conclusions they drew from that summit.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

​A representative of the British High Commission in Nairobi attended the Intra-Commonwealth SME Trade Summit in Nairobi in May, which noted the trend for the rising value of digital processes in SMEs' production and the need for SMEs to adapt to the increased global competition through digital technologies. The conclusions drawn included the need for Governments to promote national data policies and devise policies designed to protect infant domestic e-commerce platforms from the practices of larger, established companies. A recurring theme was the need to build SME digital capacity, with a role for tech hubs and incubators. In March, the UK also co-chaired the first meeting of the Digital Cluster of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment when Kenya joined representatives from 18 other Commonwealth countries to discuss how the Commonwealth can support development and increase trade by creating a more enabling environment for digital trade.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the successes which can be attributed to their sanctions policies.
A
Answered on: 20 June 2019

The UK plays a leading role in the development and implementation of sanctions in the EU and the UN. Sanctions are always used as part of a broader political strategy and are designed to change, coerce or send a political signal regarding particular behaviour(s). Whilst linking behaviour change explicitly to sanctions can be challenging, we have some evidence to suggest that sanctions on individuals can lead to their removal from positions of power and reduce their ability to carry out harmful actions. Collective sanctions through the UN or EU, for example the sanctions against the GRU officers who carried out the attack in Salisbury last year, also send a strong political signal that the EU condemns their behaviour.

Q
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Export Credit Guarantees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications for support were approved by UK Export Finance in each of the last five years; and for each such application what was its (1) value, (2) destination country, and (3) sector.
Answered on: 20 June 2019

UK Export Finance (UKEF) publishes details of its support including value, destination country and sector on an annual basis. For 2014-15 this information was published in UKEF’s Annual Report and Accounts. From 2015-16 onwards this information has been published alongside Annual Report and Accounts as transparency data. This information is available on UKEF’s website.

The table is taken from UKEF’s 2017-18 Annual Report and Accounts and shows a five-year summary of facilities issued.

2017-18

2016-17

2015-16

2014-15

2013-14

Facilities issued

580

483

593

588

613

Details of UKEF’s support for the last year will be published once its 2018-19 Annual Report and Accounts is laid before Parliament.

The 2017-18 data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/718494/uk_export_finance_businesses_supported_in_2017_to_2018.csv/preview

The 2016-17 data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630876/uk-export-finance-businesses-supported-list-2016-2017-1.csv/preview

The 2015-16 data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-export-finance-business-supported-2015-16/uk-export-finance-business-supported-2015-16

The 2014-15 data can be accessed here on page 70-83: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436270/10417-TSO-UKEF_-Annual_Report_and_Accounts_2014-15-ACCESSIBLE07__2_.pdf

Q
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: INF Treaty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 15 February (HL13545), what discussions they have had with the government of Russia about their compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty; what was the outcome of those discussions; when they took place; whether further such discussions are planned; and if so, when.
A
Answered on: 26 April 2019

​North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Allies first expressed concerns about Russian non-compliance with its Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty obligations in 2014. In the last two years, there has been an intensification of Allied activity to encourage Russia to return to compliance.

Since the US, and subsequently Russia, suspended their participation in the Treaty, we have not discussed INF directly with Russia. During the NATO-Russia Council in January 2019 we and our Allies made clear that NATO is united on the need for Russia to return to full and verifiable compliance to preserve the INF Treaty.

Q
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
European Parliament Members
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the need to ensure that British members of the European Parliament (1) do not disrupt the work of that parliament, and (2) are able to represent British interests appropriately in discharging their duties; and what steps they are taking as a result of any such assessment.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 25 April 2019

The European Council Decision, taken in agreement with the UK on 11 April, includes a duty of sincere cooperation in relation to the extension of Article 50. This includes reference to “the commitment by the United Kingdom to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension”. The full Decision can be found here: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/04/10/20190410-european-council-decision-on-extension/.

If the Withdrawal Agreement has not been ratified by 22 May, we have a legal obligation to hold European Parliament elections as a Member State, as set out under EU treaties, and we will uphold these obligations. We have therefore already started making the necessary domestic preparations in order to prepare for this potential outcome. However, as the Prime Minister has said, we will make every effort to ensure the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by 22 May so that we do not need to hold these elections.

Q
Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Yemen
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports in the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Yemen—Britain's Hidden War that UK contractors have supplied arms that were used in the war in Yemen; what reasons were stated in export licence applications submitted by Saudi Arabia, BAE Systems plc, or any intermediary, for the supply and use of weaponry; and what criteria they use to assess and approve each application.
A
Answered by: Baroness Fairhead
Answered on: 17 April 2019

All arms supplied by UK companies to Saudi Arabia require an export licence. We assess each export licence application very carefully against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the Consolidated Criteria).

The Consolidated Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to think hard about the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities. These are not decisions we take lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

The key test for assessing military exports to Saudi Arabia is Criterion 2(c) of the Consolidated Criteria – whether there is a clear risk that the exports might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

When considering export licence applications, we take into account a wide range of sources and analyses, including reports from non-governmental organisations and the United Nations, as well as those of a sensitive nature to which these parties do not have access. This provides a comprehensive basis on which Government can take informed decisions about export licence applications.

Q
Asked on: 27 March 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Cultural Heritage: Export Controls
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the Waverley Criteria for export controls on objects of cultural interest.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 09 April 2019

The Government has no such plans. The Waverley criteria continue to be the standard against which cultural objects, which are the subject of an export licence application, are judged to determine their national importance and whether an opportunity should be provided to retain them in the UK for the enjoyment of the public. The criteria continue to be held in high esteem.

Q
Asked on: 01 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Brunei: Capital Punishment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Brunei about its decision to impose death by stoning as a punishment for adultery and gay sex; and whether they intend to ban hydrocarbon imports from that country until it alters that policy.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

The Foreign Secretary spoke to Brunei's Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dato Erywan, on 4 April in order to express the UK's deep concern over Brunei's decision to implement the final phases of the Sharia Penal Code.

The Minister for Asia-Pacific delivered a statement to the House of Commons on 4 April addressing the UK position on the implications of Brunei's decision.

We have repeatedly lobbied Brunei about their plans to introduce hudud punishments. The Minister for Asia-Pacific raised this with the Sultan and Bruneian ministers during his visit to Brunei Darussalam in August 2018.

Commonwealth Heads of Government most recently met in the UK in April 2018. His Majesty The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam was present. A communique issued by the leaders included the most progressive language yet on LGBT rights, complimented by an historic speech from the Prime Minister. The UK strongly supports and defends the rights of the LGBT+ community globally. The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and all its forms. The UK upholds international human rights laws relating to torture, or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

The UK does not import hydrocarbons from Brunei. We believe that open and honest discussions, rather than boycotts, is the best way to encourage Brunei to uphold their international human rights obligations and to respect individual freedoms.

Q
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Detainees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 March (HL14232), which specific media sources were used to inform the response; and whether they agree with the conclusions and views expressed elsewhere in those articles.
A
Answered on: 04 April 2019

This figure was obtained from the ‘Statement by the Royal Court: Anti Corruption Committee Concludes Its Tasks’ released by the Saudi Press Agency, which is available on their website.

We maintain investigations must be fairly conducted and comply with international standards.

Q
Asked on: 14 March 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Community Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what initiatives they plan to implement to unite communities across the UK post-Brexit.
Answered on: 26 March 2019

In March 2018, the government published the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper which set out our ambitious goal to build strong integrated communities where people - whatever their background - live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities. This is especially important as we leave the European Union and seize the opportunity to create the kind of country we want to be: a global, outward-looking, connected nation. On 9 February 2019, we published the Integrated Communities Action Plan alongside the government’s response to the consultation on the Green Paper. The Action Plan builds upon the proposals set out in the Green Paper and commits the government to deliver over 70 policy actions by the end of this Parliament.

Q
Asked on: 07 March 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
EU Grants and Loans: Cornwall
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plan they have to replace the EU Objective 1 funding programme, with particular regard to Cornwall.
Answered on: 21 March 2019

The Government continues to develop the design and priorities of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The new Fund will seek to improve productivity and reduce economic inequalities. We will consult widely on the fund and the Government encourages all interested parties to take part in this process.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Detainees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of detainees that remain in detention as part of the government of Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption drive; where those detainees are being held; and what assessment they have made of whether an appropriate judicial process is being followed.
A
Answered on: 18 March 2019

We understand from media reports at least 56 people remain under investigation. We maintain investigations must be fairly conducted and comply with international standards.

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