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: 25 March 2020
Department for Transport
Aviation: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that (1) during, and (2) after, the grounding of any aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic all (a) UK registered commercial aircraft comply with air worthiness certification, and (b) commercial aircraft registered outside the UK comply with valid air worthiness certification to enable entering UK air space.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2020

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is working with UK airlines to understand their plans for the storage of aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines have provided to the CAA their plans to maintain aircraft whilst in storage to ensure compliance with the regulations on continuing airworthiness. The CAA will check UK airlines continue to comply with these regulations as the aircraft return to service. The CAA will also continue to audit aircraft registered in other states to check that they are in compliance with the international standards contained in the Chicago Convention through the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) programme.

Q
Asked on: 25 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hygiene: Products
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 18 March (HL2249), what assessment they have made of the impact of HMRC rates and allowances on the ability of producers of hygiene gel to produce such gel; and what plans they have, if any, to dispense with those rates and allowances to assist such producers to meet demand.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 07 April 2020

Alcohol used in the production of retail sanitiser gel is not subject to excise duty, providing it is denatured. Producers, suppliers, and users of denatured alcohol must be authorised by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Licensed suppliers of trade-specific denatured alcohol or duty-free spirit that are supplying it for hand sanitiser do not need to restrict the volume supplied. However, they should continue to inspect authorisations and record details of supplies made.

On 23 March 2020, HMRC announced a series of easements designed to increase the amount of denatured alcohol available, as well as the number of businesses authorised to use it in the production of sanitiser gel. These measures will make it easier for manufacturers to meet the sudden increase in demand during the Coronavirus outbreak. Further information on the easements announced to support hand sanitiser production can be found at gov.uk.

Q
Asked on: 25 March 2020
Ministry of Defence
Army Reserve: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the first aid, (2) the trauma and triage, and (3) the security and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defence, capabilities of the Army Reserve; and what plans they have, if any, to deploy the Army Reserve to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 06 April 2020

Defence has a number of existing contingency plans in place to provide support to civil authorities, including to the NHS. Our personnel are already providing assistance in a number of capacities and this includes those with specialist medical training. Considering the likely additional call on military assistance to mitigate COVID-19 related staff absences in civil authorities, and the increasing volume of patients requiring treatment by the NHS, Defence is consistently monitoring and enhancing its plans, training and readiness in order to support additional requests.

Q
Asked on: 09 March 2020
Home Office
Visas: Biometrics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of staff working at visa application centres, processing biometric data for applicants for UK visas, they directly employ.
Answered on: 23 March 2020
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) runs different types of visas application centres in the UK and overseas. Over four 4 million visa and immigration applications each year (visit, work, study, family, other)

are processed in these centres.

  • The majority of application centres overseas are run by commercial suppliers (VFS Global and TLS Contact) who employ their

own personnel. In the UK, Sopra Steria Ltd run application service points, again with their own employees. Biometric data of customers is taken by supplier staff.

  • There are several locations in the UK - UKVI Service and Support Centres (SSCs) - in which biometrics are taken and which are staffed by UKVI directly-employed personnel.
Q
Asked on: 09 March 2020
Home Office
Visas: Biometrics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether staff collecting biometric data from applicants for UK visas are involved in the decision-making process for awarding visas.
Answered on: 23 March 2020

Staff employed by our suppliers who collect biometric data from applicants for UKVI are not involved in the visa decision making. Staff in the SSCs are directly UKVI employed and some are trained decision makers involved in the decision making process.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hygiene: Products
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are shortages of hygiene gel distributed to retail outlets; and if so, what is the reason and what measures are being taken to resolve those shortages.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 18 March 2020

The UK is well prepared for this type of outbreak; we are taking all necessary precautions to protect the public, including engaging with industry and the business community to discuss their preparedness planning.

The Government recognises that there has been increased demand on a number of products, including hygiene gel. These shortages are caused by increased consumer demand, rather than supply chain disruption. Retailers are working with suppliers to increase stock and reassure consumers there is no need to buy higher quantities than usual.

We will work with local authorities to extend the hours that deliveries can be made to supermarkets and other food retailers to help the industry respond to COVID-19. The new measures mean retailers can increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores and move stock more quickly from warehouses across the country to replenish their shelves.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish (1) each of Her Majesty's trade commissioners' latest annual reports setting out the strategy, objectives and overarching priorities for each delegated region, and (2) the budgets supporting the delivery of those objectives.
Answered on: 18 March 2020

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners work as an integral part of the Department for International Trade, which produces its annual report and accounts every June or July.

Q
Asked on: 11 February 2020
Department for International Development
Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average percentage of overseas development assistance that they disburse through non-governmental organisations that reaches its intended recipients; what percentage of such funding is spent on administration costs; and what steps they are taking to increase the percentage of such funding that reaches its intended recipients.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 25 February 2020

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are important partners for DFID in ensuring that UKAid reaches intended recipients, particularly the most marginalised groups. Approximately 10% of UKAid in 2018 was channelled directly through NGO partners.

DFID’s approach to programme delivery ensures this funding is well targeted. A Business Case must set out why the programme represents value for money and how this will be measured. Before funds are dispersed, a due diligence assessment is conducted to ensure the NGO partner has the capacity to deliver. Each programme is then monitored throughout its life, with formal annual reviews ensuring that progress and value for money are sustained and that any management fees remain appropriate.

On 1 April this year, DFID published a new approach to cost transparency in NGO grants. A new budget template and guidance will ensure that DFID has full sight of, and is able to scrutinise, all costs being paid to CSO partners through grants and standardises our approach to paying overheads. However, the exact information requested on administration costs is not held centrally and could only be collated at disproportionate cost.

Q
Asked on: 11 February 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government with which foreign leaders, or their representatives, each Department has met since the 2019 General Election.
A
Answered on: 24 February 2020

The information is not readily available/held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost

Q
Asked on: 29 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Indian Ocean Territory: Sovereignty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest policy on the Chagos Islands; and what assessment they have made of the UN General Assembly's resolution 73/295 Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, of 22 May 2019.
A
Answered on: 10 February 2020

We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. We have made a long-standing commitment to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.

We were disappointed this matter was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), contrary to the principle that the Court should not consider bilateral disputes without the consent of both States concerned. The United Kingdom respects the ICJ and participated fully in the advisory proceedings in good faith. However, we do not share the ICJ's approach and have made known our views on the content of the opinion, including its insufficient regard to significant material facts and legal issues. The ICJ's opinion is advisory and not legally binding. Resolution 73/295 does not and cannot create any legal obligations for UN Member States.

Q
Asked on: 14 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Uzbekistan: Official Visits
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to invite the President of Uzbekistan to visit the UK; and if so, what (1) dates, and (2) topics for discussion, are being considered.
A
Answered on: 22 January 2020

​The United Kingdom-Uzbekistan relationship has improved considerably since President Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016. We are actively engaged in supporting his ambitious reform programme and are alive to the opportunities which this presents. There is not currently a date for President Mirziyoyev to visit the United Kingdom, but the signing of a bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in October last year provides the foundation for future cooperation in foreign, political and security matters.

Q
Asked on: 14 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: COE Parliamentary Assembly
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the position of the UK's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in regard to the suspension of the Russian delegation.
A
Answered on: 22 January 2020

The decision to adopt rules changes that saw the return of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in June 2019 was a matter for the Assembly. Russia's membership of the Council of Europe provides access, valued by Russian citizens and human rights Non Governmental Organisations, to the European Court of Human Rights and is one of the few ways available to the international community to hold Russia to account for its human rights violations.

The British Government did not support Russia's unconditional return to PACE. We consistently called on Russia to fulfil all its obligations as a member state, and to adhere to Council of Europe standards on human rights, democracy and rule of law. We will continue our efforts in the Council of Europe to ensure Russia is answerable for its actions. We will also continue to make clear that we do not and will never recognise Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Q
Asked on: 13 January 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Local Government: Business Interests
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Earl of Courtown on 4 November 2019 (HL380), whether they intend to instruct local authorities to maintain a public register of the disclosable pecuniary interests of officers to who delegated authority has been granted by elected members, to ensure that local government officials maintain transparency and compliance with the Nolan Principles.
Answered on: 20 January 2020

It is a matter for each council to put in place whatever arrangements it considers appropriate for the recording and disclosure of officers' interests. Many councils have a code of conduct which covers the handling of officer interests, or details are included in their contracts.

In addition, there is a statutory requirement under section 117 of the Local Government Act 1972 that officers should declare if they have any pecuniary interest in a contract awarded.

Q
Asked on: 23 October 2019
Cabinet Office
Public Sector: Business Interests
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether decision-making civil servants and local authority officials are currently required to disclose all interests to prevent any conflict of interest; and if so, whether those records are made public.
A
Answered by: The Earl of Courtown
Answered on: 04 November 2019

Civil Servants serve the government of the day and can only exercise power for and on behalf of the Secretary of State.

The Civil Service Management Code sets out regulations and instructions related to civil servants’ terms and conditions of service, including the declaration and management of private interests. HR in each Department will provide advice about the appropriate procedures to follow.

Local authorities are responsible for the management of their own officials. Local government officers must act in conformity with the Nolan Principles.

Q
Asked on: 24 October 2019
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Kazakhstan
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the outcomes of the UK–Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission meeting, held in London on 24 October.
A
Answered by: The Earl of Courtown
Answered on: 04 November 2019

My Rt Hon Friend, the Minister of State for International Trade, attended the UK-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC). The Kazakh delegation was led by the Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe, Mr Roman Vassilenko.

The IGC promoted opportunities for British companies and business collaboration in the following sectors: technical and vocational education and training, healthcare, mining, oil and gas, and financial and professional services.

TheCityUK used the IGC to take forward a British government-funded project to help develop the Astana International Financial Centre’s corporate governance code.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) and the Kazakh authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding, affirming UKEF appetite to support projects in Kazakhstan, with a view to increasing procurement from the UK.

This was a successful event with a key strategic partner in Central Asia, which supported British exporters’ efforts in the Kazakh market, which was worth £2.3 billion to UK firms in 2018-19.

Q
Asked on: 24 October 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Diplomatic Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government under what conditions they would anticipate a rapprochement of diplomatic relations with the government of Russia.
A
Answered on: 04 November 2019

​We continue to hope that we will one day once again enjoy a strong partnership with the Russian government and we remain open to a different relationship in future – one where Russia desists from attacks that undermine international treaties and international security, and its actions that undermine the territorial integrity of its neighbours - and instead acts together with us to fulfil the common responsibilities we share as permanent members of the UN Security Council. As long as Russia persists in its efforts to undermine our interests and values, we will continue to deter and counter them.

Q
Asked on: 24 October 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Foreign Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government to which UK–Russia cooperative activities in (1) Moscow, and (2) other regions of the Russian Federation, they have provided funding for over the past year.
A
Answered on: 31 October 2019

The United Kingdom currently provides funding in support of a range of programme activity in Russia across Moscow and other regions primarily to support people to people links and support civil society in areas such as human rights, climate change, science, tourism, sport, and trade. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is responsible for managing the Russia programme, however we work collaboratively across Government to ensure activities reflect a broad perspective.

Q
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish their Regional Trade Plans.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 16 August 2019

Regional Trade Plans (RTPs), set out an overseas region’s overarching strategy, key objectives and priorities, which will drive the delivery of Her Majesty’s Government’s trade objectives overseas. Currently, the RTPs are internal documents, but the Department for International Trade intends to publish executive summaries of the RTPs in due course.

Q
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Digital Technology: Innovation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to incentivise more innovative digital projects in the UK.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 02 August 2019

The Industrial Strategy set out our commitment to becoming the world’s most innovative economy, ensuring the UK is the best place for researchers and innovators throughout Britain. We are already delivering record increases in public sector R&D investment — an extra £7bn committed by 2021/21 — with a target to reach 2.4% of GDP investment in R&D across the whole economy by 2027.

The government is supporting organisations that promote digital innovation. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is incentivising innovation, including in digital projects, by bringing together world-class UK research with business investment to develop new technologies. The Digital Catapult, an advanced digital technology innovation centre, receives funding to drive the early adoption of digital technologies to make UK businesses more competitive. It provides physical and digital facilities for experimentation and brings small companies, corporates, researchers and investors together through innovation programmes.

We are also helping innovative companies to access funding to expand and develop new projects. This includes the £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme, delivered through the British Business Bank, which will support innovative UK companies to access the long-term investment they need to grow and expand worldwide.

The Industrial Strategy also supports the development of projects in specific sectors through Sector Deals: long term partnerships between industry and the government. These have included commitments to develop several digital projects to improve productivity in sectors ranging from Rail to Creative Industries to Tourism.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Department for Transport
Pedestrians: Safety
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk to pedestrians on pavements of the wing mirrors on buses and other large vehicles; and what steps they will take to ensure that pedestrians are not at risk of being struck by the wing mirrors of such vehicles.
A
Answered on: 24 July 2019

The Government has not made an assessment of the risk to pedestrians on pavements of the wing mirrors on buses and other large vehicles, as this level of detail is not collected in road traffic collision information.

Vehicle regulations are made at an international level and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 46 already includes provisions to protect pedestrians with regard to the mirror of a moving vehicle.

Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Intelligence Services: Languages
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people whose first language is not English are employed by each of the intelligence agencies; what languages they speak; and what assessment they have made of the adequacy of language proficiency in the intelligence services.
A
Answered on: 22 July 2019

​The Government has a longstanding policy of not commenting on intelligence matters.

Q
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Fairhead on 23 January (HL12726) and Viscount Younger of Leckie on 4 July (HL16484), whether the Department for International Trade's Regional Trade Plans include recommendations for implementation which reflect the views of the private sector; whether equal consideration is given to the recommendations of small and medium-sized enterprises in addition to those of large organisations; and why they do not currently intend to publish Regional Trade Plans in full.
Answered on: 17 July 2019

To achieve a forward-looking Global Britain the Department for International Trade works with both UK and overseas businesses of all sizes to drive an increase in trade. Regional Trade Plans are strategic documents which drive the delivery of our Departmental objectives overseas and have been developed by teams who work regularly with businesses in their regions and in the UK. These views are reflected in regional priorities in the Plans.

We intend to publish a summary of Regional Trade Plans, which will consolidate more detailed internal plans.

Q
Asked on: 10 July 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electric Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans UK regulators are implementing to ensure continuity of electricity supplies from national and local grids to supply electric cars during rush hour journeys.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 17 July 2019

The Government is committed to making sure consumers have secure, affordable and clean energy now and in the future.

The Capacity Market secures the capacity required to meet peak demand, including demand for electric vehicles, in a range of scenarios through auctions held four- and one-year ahead of delivery. Although currently in a standstill period, the Capacity Market has already procured the bulk of the electricity capacity we need up to 2022.

In addition, the Government has taken powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 to mandate that charge points sold or installed in the UK must be smart enabled – allowing demand for charging of electric vehicles to be shifted, where appropriate, to off-peak times.

Finally, Ofgem regulates network companies to ensure that they deliver a safe, reliable network whilst investing for the future and providing value for money for consumers. This includes ensuring that networks can reliably deliver the energy that consumers need, including for charging electric vehicles.

Q
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Embassies: Surveillance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the recording of events surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, what assessment they have made of the adequacy of security measures to prevent surveillance of UK embassies and consulates.
A
Answered on: 15 July 2019

​It is our policy not to comment publicly on the security measures that protect our people, properties and information.

Q
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Jamal Khashoggi
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Goudie on 27 June, what repercussions the UK has indicated to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would follow should international judicial norms not be followed in all matters relating to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
A
Answered on: 11 July 2019

The British Government condemns Jamal Khashoggi's killing in the strongest possible terms. The Government remains clear that anyone found responsible must be held fully accountable. The ongoing Saudi judicial process is an important element in the process to establish accountability. We expect it to proceed in line with internationally recognised legal standards. The UK attends the trial as part of a group of international observers. We attend all trials of international concern where host governments permit us to do so. It would not be appropriate for us to comment on an ongoing legal process.

Q
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for International Development
International Assistance: Blockchain
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to making full use of the capabilities of blockchain-based smart contracts to protect the supply chain and ensure that major international aid and development projects are fully transparent, and that funding is secure.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 10 July 2019

DFID is committed to best practice in the use of new digital technologies and we have set a vision for doing development in a digital world in our Digital Strategy. We have commissioned several reports to understand the effectiveness and potential of emerging blockchain technologies for international development. DFID also has several proof of concept pilots in design and implementation to test the potential of blockchain in, for example, humanitarian supply chains, tracking of UK aid funds, and to incentivise and reward environmentally sustainable farming practices. DFID is learning from these pilots and other projects to ensure that the UK remains at the cutting edge of delivering aid.

DFID’s contracts are tendered in accordance with the EU Public Procurement Directive and the UK Public Procurement Regulations 2015, the focus of which is to ensure open and fair competition between bidders. This means our contracts are competitively tendered following a set of standard processes set out in the regulations. This competitive approach helps ensure value for money in the delivery of UK aid. British companies have continued to be very successful in this competitive market with UK firms winning 80% of our contracts in 2018/19.

Grouped Questions: HL16770 | HL16771
Q
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for International Development
International Assistance: Blockchain
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to help fund the further assessment and development of blockchain technologies for major infrastructure and international development projects, and (2) to ensure that the UK remains a centre of excellence and is a preferred jurisdiction for such contracts.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 10 July 2019

DFID is committed to best practice in the use of new digital technologies and we have set a vision for doing development in a digital world in our Digital Strategy. We have commissioned several reports to understand the effectiveness and potential of emerging blockchain technologies for international development. DFID also has several proof of concept pilots in design and implementation to test the potential of blockchain in, for example, humanitarian supply chains, tracking of UK aid funds, and to incentivise and reward environmentally sustainable farming practices. DFID is learning from these pilots and other projects to ensure that the UK remains at the cutting edge of delivering aid.

DFID’s contracts are tendered in accordance with the EU Public Procurement Directive and the UK Public Procurement Regulations 2015, the focus of which is to ensure open and fair competition between bidders. This means our contracts are competitively tendered following a set of standard processes set out in the regulations. This competitive approach helps ensure value for money in the delivery of UK aid. British companies have continued to be very successful in this competitive market with UK firms winning 80% of our contracts in 2018/19.

Grouped Questions: HL16769 | HL16771
Q
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for International Development
International Assistance: Blockchain
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support UK companies that are developing blockchain technology for the delivery of major international development contracts.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 10 July 2019

DFID is committed to best practice in the use of new digital technologies and we have set a vision for doing development in a digital world in our Digital Strategy. We have commissioned several reports to understand the effectiveness and potential of emerging blockchain technologies for international development. DFID also has several proof of concept pilots in design and implementation to test the potential of blockchain in, for example, humanitarian supply chains, tracking of UK aid funds, and to incentivise and reward environmentally sustainable farming practices. DFID is learning from these pilots and other projects to ensure that the UK remains at the cutting edge of delivering aid.

DFID’s contracts are tendered in accordance with the EU Public Procurement Directive and the UK Public Procurement Regulations 2015, the focus of which is to ensure open and fair competition between bidders. This means our contracts are competitively tendered following a set of standard processes set out in the regulations. This competitive approach helps ensure value for money in the delivery of UK aid. British companies have continued to be very successful in this competitive market with UK firms winning 80% of our contracts in 2018/19.

Grouped Questions: HL16769 | HL16770
Q
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Business: Billing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to use blockchain-based smart-contracts to ensure that small and medium sized enterprises are protected from late payment by larger companies in the supply chain.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 10 July 2019

The Government recognises the impact late payments can have on businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises.

Blockchain technology is one solution of how this can be tackled.. For example, smart contracts can initiate payments based on digitally approved work or digitally tracked goods delivery. This enables businesses to be paid automatically, reducing the need for invoicing and preventing delays in payments. The technology ensures a high level of transparency for all parties involved, and helps prevent organisations from taking unilateral actions to alter original contracts.

The Government is supporting the development of blockchain technology in the UK and officials in the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport are exploring potential pilot projects with government departments. The Department for Business recently published the government response on the call for evidence to end late payments to small businesses. Many SMEs supply to government and, as one of the UK's largest corporate buyers, it is our responsibility to ensure suppliers are paid promptly and to examine where the use of technology can help with this.

Q
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Home Office
Home Office
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to reassess the working structure of the Home Office.
Answered on: 08 July 2019

Her Majesty’s Government has no such plans. Nonetheless, in common with all large organisations, the Home Office makes marginal adjustments to its structures routinely.

Q
Asked on: 18 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Fairhead on 9 January (HL 12726), whether the Trade Commission Regional Trade Plans include recommendations for implementation; if so, how any such recommendations are being implemented; whether they will now publish the Regional Trade Plans; and if not, why not.
Answered on: 04 July 2019

Regional trade plans (RTPs) are internal departmental documents which set out a region’s overarching strategy, objectives and priorities. They are developed in collaboration between overseas and UK based officials, and are assessed yearly. Where the Department for International Trade operates, UK overseas posts also have a plan to deliver our vision for a Global Britain, which provides the detail of how an RTP will be implemented in each market.

It is the Department’s intention to publish a public version of the plans in due course.

Q
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China and Iran: British Nationals Abroad
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the respective Nationality Acts of (1) China, and (2) Iran, on British dual nationals, in particular their impact on general safety, vulnerability to blackmail and security risks; what advice they give those dual nationals when travelling to those countries; and what protection they give to those when affected.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) produces country-specific travel advice for British nationals. The travel advice for China and Iran contains specific information for British dual nationals. The FCO advises British-Iranian dual nationals against all travel to Iran. The assistance the FCO can provide to British nationals is set out in the public guide, "Support for British nationals abroad: a guide", which also contains information on how we can help dual nationals. Consular assistance is tailored to the individual circumstances of each case, though the FCO cannot normally help dual nationals when they are in the country of their other nationality. Further advice for British-Chinese dual nationals in China is also available on GOV.UK.

Q
Asked on: 24 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 20 June, whether they can provide examples of the evidence on which they based their answer; and what assessment they have made of whether leaders of countries targeted by UK sanctions care about the effects of such sanctions on citizens of those countries.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

​Sanctions are designed to effect a change in behaviour through coercing or constraining an individual or entity, or sending a clear political signal of international discontent at particular behaviour. Linking behaviour change to sanctions explicitly is challenging as it is difficult to judge the extent of the influence of sanctions alone as they are always deployed as part of a broader strategy, accompanied by other policy tools. The majority of sanctions implemented by the UK are EU and UN sanctions. It is difficult to assess the personal opinions of the political leadership of countries which have been sanctioned; however, sanctions are carefully targeted and not intended to be punitive in nature.

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.

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