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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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: 30 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Venezuela: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Prime Minister has received a letter dated 26 January from Juan Guaidó, President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, relating to a request to halt financial transactions from the Bank of England to Venezuela; and if so, what will be their response.
A
Answered on: 13 February 2019

I can confirm that Mr Guaido wrote to the Prime Minister and the Governor of the Bank of England on 26 January. The Bank of England is an independent institution. Decisions about such issues are a matter for the Bank of England.

Q
Asked on: 30 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Cross Border Cooperation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the State Institute of Drugs and Good Practices of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, whether they plan to cooperate with the government of Russia on other issues in the future; and if so, what are those plans.
A
Answered on: 13 February 2019

Although planned high-level contact with Russia has been suspended, it remains important that we continue to engage with Russia; avoid misunderstandings; push for change where we disagree; and cooperate where it is in the UK national interest.

Q
Asked on: 30 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Cross Border Cooperation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are currently collaborating with the government of Russia on any projects or programmes; and if so, what are those projects or programmes.
A
Answered on: 11 February 2019

The only joint project between the two governments is the UK-Russia Year of Music, which will be delivered by the British Council. The Russian Government is not a partner in any other project activity.

Q
Asked on: 30 January 2019
The Senior Deputy Speaker
Parliamentary Estate: Proof of Identity
Lords
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what consideration has been given to requiring all visitors to the Parliamentary estate to present photo identification before entry.
A
Answered on: 07 February 2019

There are over one million visitors to Parliament each year. Visitors access the estate for many reasons. These include: to meet with a Member or a member of staff; to attend a Member-sponsored meeting or meetings at official level; to give evidence to a Committee; to lobby; to attend debates in both Houses (in the Chambers and Committees); to attend functions and banqueting events; to take a tour (both paid-for and democratic free tours); or as part of an Education Service visit. Many visits do not need to be pre-booked. In order to promote open access to Parliament controls are kept proportionate to the security risk. Photo identification by visitors is not currently deemed proportionate and if introduced would need to be verified, significantly delaying the admission of visitors to Parliament and resulting in lengthy queues at peak times.

All non-passholders are subject to search and screening measures before entering the estate. The Parliamentary Security Department do not comment publicly on the details of security measures.

The Director of Security for Parliament is content to meet with any members who wish to discuss specific concerns.

Q
Asked on: 15 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Zimbabwe: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the current protests in Harare, (2) the police tactics used in response to those protests, and (3) the potential impact on the stability of that country of the government of Zimbabwe’s decision to increase fuel prices by 150 per cent.
A
Answered on: 29 January 2019

While we condemn the violent behaviour of some protestors, and unlawful acts such as arson and looting, we are deeply concerned that Zimbabwe’s security forces have acted disproportionately in response. In particular, there are disturbing reports of use of live ammunition, intimidation and excessive force. On 17 January the Minister for Africa summoned the Zimbabwean Ambassador to highlight our concern at the ongoing situation in Zimbabwe.

Comprehensive and difficult economic reforms are necessary to address Zimbabwe’s economic challenges. However, the Government must implement these as part of a broad strategy, seeking the advice of the International Monetary Fund.

Q
Asked on: 09 January 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Fairhead on 20 September 2018 (HL10343), whether they have now received the regional trade plan of each of Her Majesty's Trade Commissioners; and if so, whether they will publish those plans.
A
Answered by: Baroness Fairhead
Answered on: 23 January 2019

All of Her Majesty’s nine Trade Commissioners have completed their first Regional Trade Plans, which set out how each region will meet the Department’s objectives overseas. These have all been discussed at the Departmental Board. Over the coming months, Trade Commissioners will be refreshing their plans to ensure they remain fully updated.

The Department for International Trade does not intend to publish Regional Trade Plans at present, as they are internal documents. However, for the future, we are considering what information may be appropriate to publish and when.

Grouped Questions: HL12727
Q
Asked on: 09 January 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Fairhead on 20 September 2018 (HL10343), which Trade Commissioners, if any, have not yet submitted their regional trade plan.
A
Answered by: Baroness Fairhead
Answered on: 23 January 2019

All of Her Majesty’s nine Trade Commissioners have completed their first Regional Trade Plans, which set out how each region will meet the Department’s objectives overseas. These have all been discussed at the Departmental Board. Over the coming months, Trade Commissioners will be refreshing their plans to ensure they remain fully updated.

The Department for International Trade does not intend to publish Regional Trade Plans at present, as they are internal documents. However, for the future, we are considering what information may be appropriate to publish and when.

Grouped Questions: HL12726
Q
Asked on: 15 January 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Religion: Educational Institutions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for a specific educational institute in the UK to promote religious inclusiveness and the awareness of all faiths.
Answered on: 23 January 2019

In the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, published last year, the Government set out its commitment to building strong, integrated communities where people – whatever their background – live, learn, work and socialise together based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities. All schools are required to promote Fundamental British Values, which include mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and there are a range of existing sources of advice and guidance for schools on religious awareness.

Q
Asked on: 07 January 2019
Home Office
Overseas Visitors: Visas
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is normal practice to request biometric procedures to be conducted before final approval for permission to enter the UK on a visitor's visa; and if so, whether they plan to consider approving such applications before an appointment to collect biometric data is made.
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The Government uses biographic and biometric information to conduct iden-tity and suitability checks on visa applicants before deciding whether to issue an applicant with a visa. If we did not complete these checks before approv-ing a visa application, we risk granting entry clearance to individuals who have an adverse immigration history and exposing the UK to harm from criminals who seek to come to the UK.

Q
Asked on: 12 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
EU Countries: British Nationals Abroad
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will encourage UK ambassadors to the 27 EU member states to request a meeting between a delegation of UK citizens resident in those countries and the respective governments of those countries to express their concerns and discuss future plans for their residency arrangements after Brexit.
A
Answered on: 28 December 2018

Since the EU Referendum our Overseas Posts in the 27 EU Member States have been engaging regularly with UK Nationals living in those countries on a range of issues from the UK's EU Exit, including around residency. In many Member States, our Posts have already involved host governments and others have plans to do so in the coming months. Engagement with UK Nationals, and host governments will continue regularly in the run up to the UK's EU Exit, ensuring UK Nationals have the most up to date information on residency rights and other issues.

Q
Asked on: 04 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether genocide is being perpetrated in southern Cameroon; and if so what action, if any, they plan to take in response.
A
Answered on: 13 December 2018

Government policy is that any judgment on whether war crimes or crimes against humanity or genocide has occurred is a matter for judicial decision, rather than for governments or non-judicial bodies. The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in Cameroon and the deteriorating security situation in the Anglophone regions of the country. We continue to call for all parties in Cameroon to engage in a peaceful and structured process leading to constitutional reforms, as previously set out by the President, and to avoid excessive use of force. The UK will continue to work alongside the international community to encourage and support efforts to resolve the worsening Anglophone crisis.

Q
Asked on: 04 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of who may be responsible for killings and burning down of villages in southern Cameroon during the current conflict.
A
Answered on: 12 December 2018

We remain deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in the Anglophone regions, which continue to suffer from high levels of violence and human rights abuses and violations perpetrated by both security forces and armed separatists. The British Government is equally concerned by the razing of villages. We have raised our concerns with the Cameroonian authorities and we continue to call for restraint and an end to violence from all sides. We are working closely with the wider international community, including the UN, to build as full and accurate a picture as possible. The complex and deep-rooted historical nature of the situation reinforces the urgent and imperative need to tackle the underlying issues in the Anglophone regions. This is why we continue to encourage efforts to pursue an inclusive dialogue to address the root causes of the crisis - the only means through which long-term stability in the region can be achieved.

Q
Asked on: 04 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the governments of Cameroon and France in relation to the violence being perpetrated in southern Cameroon.
A
Answered on: 12 December 2018

The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in Cameroon and the deteriorating security situation in the Anglophone regions of the country. Minister Baldwin visited Cameroon in February 2018 when she met the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers and reinforced the importance of respecting human rights in a challenging security environment. In her statement following elections in Cameroon, Minister Baldwin called for all parties to engage in a peaceful and structured process leading to constitutional reforms, as previously set out by the President, and to avoid excessive use of force. Minister Baldwin has discussed the violence in the Anglophone regions with French Minister Lemoyne, who shares UK concerns. The Minister for Africa pressed these points again when she met the Secretary General of the Presidency on Thursday 3 May. The UK will continue to work alongside the international community to encourage and support efforts to resolve the Anglophone crisis.

Q
Asked on: 04 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions, if any, they have conducted with the Commonwealth Heads of Government about the conflict in southern Cameroon; what response they received; and whether Commonwealth Heads of Government have considered deploying their conflict resolution team to southern Cameroon.
A
Answered on: 12 December 2018

During the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London in April the then Foreign Secretary and Minister for Africa met Cameroonian counterparts, reminding them of the obligations placed upon Cameroon by the Commonwealth Charter. There have not been recent discussions with Commonwealth counterparts. The Commonwealth is one of a number of multilateral organisations who are placed to support the Government of Cameroon to initiate a meaningful and inclusive dialogue and in December 2017 the Commonwealth secretariat Baroness Scotland visited Cameroon to discuss the Anglophone crisis.

Q
Asked on: 04 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the government of Rwanda could play a role in negotiating a sustainable resolution to the conflict in southern Cameroon as the next host of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and a francophone member.
A
Answered on: 12 December 2018

The UK continues to work alongside the international community, including a range of African partners to encourage urgent efforts to resolve the Anglophone crisis. Given Cameroon’s status as a Commonwealth member, the Commonwealth is one of a number of organisations who could be well placed to support the Government of Cameroon to initiate a meaningful and inclusive dialogue to address the root causes of the crisis.

Q
Asked on: 05 December 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cameroon: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made an assessment of the impact of the independence referendum held in Cameroon in 1961 on the current conflict between anglophone and francophone groups in that country.
A
Answered on: 12 December 2018

The UK recognises the outcome of the 1961 referendum organised by the UN in which British Southern Cameroons (the modern Anglophone regions) voted to join La Republique du Cameroun. UNGA Resolution 1608(XV) endorsed the result of the plebiscite in Southern Cameroons. The UK respects the territorial integrity of Cameroon. The causes of the current crisis are deep-rooted and historically complex. We recognise that the history of this conflict includes the impact of constitutional changes following independence, particularly on the cultural and political status of the Anglophone minority.

Q
Asked on: 22 November 2018
Treasury
Gold and Foreign Exchange Reserves: Venezuela
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider a moratorium on any repatriation of gold held by the Bank of England to the government or Central Bank of Venezuela until such time as they are satisfied that any repatriation meets the best interests of the people of that country.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 06 December 2018

Holding gold reserves on behalf of any foreign central bank is a matter for the Bank of England. The Bank of England does not share information on which central banks it holds gold reserves on behalf of or the value of that gold as this would contradict their customer confidentiality obligations. Repatriation of any gold held at the Bank of England is ultimately a matter for the Bank of England. HM Treasury only has direct control over Government holdings of gold within its official reserves, which are held at the Bank of England.

The UK fully implements UN, EU and UK domestic sanctions law. The EU sanctions regime on Venezuela, introduced in November 2017, includes targeted asset freezes applied to a number of senior Government officials in the Maduro regime.

Q
Asked on: 23 November 2018
Department for Exiting the European Union
EU Budget: Contributions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any final financial settlement with the EU resulting from Brexit will represent the UK's accumulated obligations; and if so, how much the accumulated obligations represent; and whether they will publish a breakdown of those obligations.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 06 December 2018

We have agreed a fair financial settlement with the EU as part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement which reflects the UK paying its share of the outstanding EU commitments made during the period of our membership. Our estimate, based on reasonable assumptions and publically available data, falls within the range of £35bn-£39bn, and the National Audit Office confirmed in April 2018 that these assumptions were reasonable.

Details of the basis on which that figure was reached can be found in the draft Withdrawal Agreement, published on November 14th, 2018. The Chancellor of the Exchequer also provided details to the Treasury Select Committee in January 2018, including a breakdown of the components of the settlement.


Q
Asked on: 21 November 2018
Treasury
Gold and Foreign Exchange Reserves: Venezuela
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the benefits to the UK of holding gold reserves for the central bank of Venezuela, and (2) the value of gold held by the Bank of England for the central bank of Venezuela; and whether they have a role in intervening if a request is made to repatriate any such gold.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 05 December 2018

HM Treasury is unable to substantiate whether the Bank of England holds gold for the Central Bank of Venezuela as that is a matter for the Bank of England. HM Treasury has not made an assessment of the benefits to the UK of the Bank of England holding gold reserves for other central banks. Holding gold reserves on behalf of any foreign central bank is a matter for the Bank of England. The Bank of England does not share information on which central banks it holds gold reserves on behalf of or the value of that gold as this would contradict their customer confidentiality obligations.

Q
Asked on: 21 November 2018
Treasury
Gold and Foreign Exchange Reserves
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the benefits to the UK of holding gold reserves for other central banks, and (2) the value of gold held by the Bank of England for other central banks.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 05 December 2018

HM Treasury is unable to substantiate whether the Bank of England holds gold for other central banks as that is a matter for the Bank of England. HM Treasury has not made an assessment of the benefits to the UK of the Bank of England holding gold reserves for other central banks. Holding gold reserves on behalf of any foreign central bank is a matter for the Bank of England. The Bank of England does not share information on which central banks it holds gold reserves on behalf of or the value of that gold as this would contradict their customer confidentiality obligations.

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