Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

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

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Jo Platt
(Leigh)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 03 June 2019
Cabinet Office
Government Departments: North West
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what proportion of the Government Estate is in the North West region.
A
Answered by: Oliver Dowden
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The total floor area for the North West as at March 2018 was 983,403 sq.m, c.12.7% of the total size of the central estate.


For the purposes of comparison, the proportion of the general UK population in the North West is approximately 11%, whilst the proportion of Civil Servants based in the North West is 12.27%.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Indonesia
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether he plans to make increased trade with Indonesia conditional on the removal of virginity tests for women applying to the Indonesian military.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The UK has a strong history of protecting human rights and promoting our values globally. We were the first country to produce a National Action Plan to implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We will continue to encourage all states to uphold international human rights obligations.

As we develop our independent trade policy, we recognise the need to maximise benefits of trade whilst staying true to our values.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Honduras
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps he has taken to negotiate a free trade deal with Honduras.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 17 June 2019

As we leave the EU, the Government is seeking to replicate the effects of the EU’s existing trade agreement with Central America, which includes Honduras. We are working together with Central American partners to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios.

Discussions are on-going and the Government will inform Parliament as soon as our discussions have concluded, ahead of ratification.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Israel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress he has made in negotiating a free trade deal with Israel.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 17 June 2019

On 18th February 2019, the Secretary of State for International Trade signed the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, which ensures continuity in our trade and investment relationship after the proposed Implementation Period, or if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Securing continuity is the strongest foundation on which to build further on our successful trading relationship.

The UK is committed to strengthening our excellent bilateral relationship through the dedicated trade promotion team at our Embassy in Tel-Aviv. We continue to engage with the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry and liaise with the government to maximise future trade opportunities.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Malawi
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps he has taken to negotiate a free trade deal with Malawi after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018 enables the UK to put in place a trade preferences scheme for developing countries that maintains duty-free, quota-free access to Least Developed Countries, including Malawi.

The UK has signed an Economic Partnership Agreement with Eastern and Southern Africa States (ESA). As Malawi has not acceded to the ESA-EU EPA it is not party to the transitioned UK EPA although it is eligible to do so in the future.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 06 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Togo
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress has he made on strengthening the trade relationship with Togo after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 17 June 2019

Draft Answer

As the Prime Minister set out during her visit to Africa last Summer, which I accompanied her on, the Government is committed to advancing our trade relationship with Africa. DIT has set up the Africa Trade Services Unit to act as the single point of contact for UK companies exporting to Africa. The Unit responds to all Africa trade enquiries, including those related to Togo to improve companies’ trading capabilities and promote trade.

The Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018 enables the UK to put in place a trade preferences scheme for developing countries that maintains duty-free, quota-free access to Least Developed Countries, including Togo.

Q
Asked by Hugh Gaffney
(Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Fraud: Scotland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to improve public awareness of scams in Scotland.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 June 2019

Responsibility and funding to provide consumer advice, education and advocacy was devolved to the Scottish Government under the Scotland Act 2016. The Scottish Government fund Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) and Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) to deliver. BEIS remains responsible for funding the delivery of national and cross-border enforcement in Scotland through Trading Standards Scotland (TSS).

CAS and TSS are currently working together to deliver the annual Scams Awareness campaign in Scotland which runs from 10th to 23rd June to raise awareness, educate consumers and encourage the reporting of scams. TSS also worked with Policy Scotland, local Trading Standards and Neighbourhood Watch on the “Shut out Scammers” campaign in April this year to tackle doorstep crime and bogus callers.

Much of the work undertaken by TSS is targeted at preventing scams; tackling rogue traders; and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Q
Asked by Paul Farrelly
(Newcastle-under-Lyme)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Kazakhstani counterpart on respect for the fundamental freedoms of expression and association in that country.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 17 June 2019

We are concerned about restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in Kazakhstan, including during the 9 June Presidential election. We consistently raise our concerns as part of ongoing discussions with the Kazakh Government on human rights and democracy, including during the most recent round of the UK-Kazakhstan strategic talks in December 2018 and when I visited Nur-Sultan in April. During that visit I had wide-ranging discussions with senior Kazakh Government figures covering the need for free, fair and transparent elections to support a smooth transition of power and the importance of a representative, multi-party parliament. The UK continues to support a number of projects to promote and develop respect for fundamental human rights in Kazakhstan.

Q
Asked by Paul Farrelly
(Newcastle-under-Lyme)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to (a) the Moldovan Ambassador in London and (b) his Moldovian counterpart on the political situation in that country.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 17 June 2019

We are following closely political developments in Moldova. The UK issued a joint statement on 10 June alongside Germany, France, Poland and Sweden, calling on all Moldovan parties to respect the will of the electorate and to resolve the situation through discussions in the Moldovan Parliament. We continue to call for calm and restraint and for the constitutional crisis to be resolved through peaceful means.

Q
(Barnsley East)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 10 June 2019 to Question 260093, on what dates each labour market enforcement undertaking was applied; to which employers such undertakings were applied; and on the basis of what trigger offence in each case.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The Immigration Act 2016 introduced the provision for three labour market enforcement bodies to serve labour market enforcement undertakings (LMEU) and orders (LMEO): the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – National Minimum Wage Team (HMRC – NMW).

To date, no prosecution has resulted from breaching a labour market enforcement undertaking or order.

Each enforcement body has a different legal framework for the disclosure of information related to LMEUs. Both EAS and HMRC – NMW cannot disclose the name of the employers or the nature of the offences without informed consent from the employers involved as this would be in breach of their respective customer confidentiality clauses. Section 9 of the Employment Agency Act precludes EAS from publishing the name or details of enforcement action without the permission of the employment business or agencies involved. Section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005 precludes HMRC from disclosing/sharing information about an individual or taxpayer to a third party.

The GLAA routinely discloses the dates and the type of trigger offences for which its LMEUs are served. Whilst the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 does not preclude the GLAA from disclosing the names of the recipients of LMEUs, the GLAA does not deem appropriate to release their identity. Identity disclosure would defeat the purpose of LMEUs which are a voluntary agreement meant to be a proportionate sanction to encourage compliant behaviour from the recipient.

The table below displays the information that could be disclosed by the three enforcement bodies:

Enforcement Body

Number of LMEU served

Date of commencement

Trigger offence

EAS

4

04/04/18

Not disclosed

1

03/04/18

Not disclosed

GLAA

1

20/03/18

All these LMEUs have been issued for trigger offences under section 12 and 13 of the Gangmasters Licensing Act 2004 which respectively refer to acting as an unlicensed gangmaster and using labour supplied by an unlicensed gangmaster.

1

22/05/18

1

21/06/18

1

13/07/18

1

23/07/18

1

16/08/18

3

21/08/18

1

31/12/18

4

15/04/19

1

26/04/19

HMRC - NMW

1

19/06/18

Not disclosed

1

27/06/18

Not disclosed

1

21/08/18

Not disclosed

1

05/11/18

Not disclosed

1

22/10/18

Not disclosed

1

30/10/18

Not disclosed

1

16/11/18

Not disclosed

1

07/03/19

Not disclosed

Total: 28

Grouped Questions: 263218
Q
(Barnsley East)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 10 June 2019 to Question 260713 on Minimum Wage, how many employers were (a) found to be non-compliant with the National Minimum Wage, (b) prosecuted for non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage, (c) subject to labour market enforcement undertakings or orders in relation to non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage and (d) named under the National Minimum Wage Naming Scheme in 2018-19.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The Government is clear that National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement is a priority and we take tough action against the minority of employers who underpay. We have more than doubled the budget for NMW compliance and enforcement since 2015, to a record high of £27.4 million. The 2018/19 financial year was a record year for NMW enforcement; HMRC identified £24.4 million in arrears across 3,018 cases – a record number since the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016.

HMRC issued seven labour market undertakings in 2018/19 and there are currently seven cases at various stages of the criminal investigation process. We strike a careful balance with our enforcement; working with and educating employers to make sure they pay their workers correctly whilst tackling the most serious cases of wilful non-compliance. Prosecution is reserved for the most egregious breaches of minimum wage law and, in most cases, it is not the best approach to help workers. Criminal sanctions against companies can mean that workers end up waiting considerably longer for their lost earnings to be repaid.

In 2018/19 the Government named 239 employers as part of the NMW Naming Scheme, covering over £1.4 million in arrears for 22,361 workers. The scheme is currently under review to ensure that it best fulfils its purpose, and we will conclude this work during the summer.

Q
(Barnsley East)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 10 June 2019 to Question 260713 on Minimum Wage, when the Government resumes naming employers found underpaying the National Minimum Wage, whether they will name all employers who have been found to be underpaying since the last naming round on 6 July 2018.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 June 2019

Enforcement of the National Minimum and National Living Wage (NMW) is a priority for the Government. We remain committed to naming employers who break the law. The review of the NMW Naming Scheme will be concluded during the summer and will be communicated through changes to our published NMW Enforcement policy documents.

HM Revenue and Customs’ NMW team continues to collate cases to be passed to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for consideration under the NMW Naming Scheme.

When naming resumes, all cases which have closed since publication of the previous naming round will be considered for naming in line with the published policy.

Q
(Barnsley East)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many prosecutions there have been for breaching a labour market enforcement undertaking or order in each year since those undertakings and orders came into force.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The Immigration Act 2016 introduced the provision for three labour market enforcement bodies to serve labour market enforcement undertakings (LMEU) and orders (LMEO): the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – National Minimum Wage Team (HMRC – NMW).

To date, no prosecution has resulted from breaching a labour market enforcement undertaking or order.

Each enforcement body has a different legal framework for the disclosure of information related to LMEUs. Both EAS and HMRC – NMW cannot disclose the name of the employers or the nature of the offences without informed consent from the employers involved as this would be in breach of their respective customer confidentiality clauses. Section 9 of the Employment Agency Act precludes EAS from publishing the name or details of enforcement action without the permission of the employment business or agencies involved. Section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005 precludes HMRC from disclosing/sharing information about an individual or taxpayer to a third party.

The GLAA routinely discloses the dates and the type of trigger offences for which its LMEUs are served. Whilst the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 does not preclude the GLAA from disclosing the names of the recipients of LMEUs, the GLAA does not deem appropriate to release their identity. Identity disclosure would defeat the purpose of LMEUs which are a voluntary agreement meant to be a proportionate sanction to encourage compliant behaviour from the recipient.

The table below displays the information that could be disclosed by the three enforcement bodies:

Enforcement Body

Number of LMEU served

Date of commencement

Trigger offence

EAS

4

04/04/18

Not disclosed

1

03/04/18

Not disclosed

GLAA

1

20/03/18

All these LMEUs have been issued for trigger offences under section 12 and 13 of the Gangmasters Licensing Act 2004 which respectively refer to acting as an unlicensed gangmaster and using labour supplied by an unlicensed gangmaster.

1

22/05/18

1

21/06/18

1

13/07/18

1

23/07/18

1

16/08/18

3

21/08/18

1

31/12/18

4

15/04/19

1

26/04/19

HMRC - NMW

1

19/06/18

Not disclosed

1

27/06/18

Not disclosed

1

21/08/18

Not disclosed

1

05/11/18

Not disclosed

1

22/10/18

Not disclosed

1

30/10/18

Not disclosed

1

16/11/18

Not disclosed

1

07/03/19

Not disclosed

Total: 28

Grouped Questions: 263213
Q
Asked by Tracy Brabin
(Batley and Spen)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of regulating casting websites for performers to ensure that advertised roles comply with (a) the national minimum wage and (b) the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The Government is committed to creating a labour market that works for everyone. Effective enforcement is a key element of the Good Work Plan, which sets out the biggest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation.

Casting websites in the acting sector can already meet the definition of an employment agency, as set out in the Employment Agencies Act 1973. If they meet the definition, they need to comply with the current legislation, which includes specific regulations that cover acting and background extras agencies.

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 includes certain requirements in relation to advertising by employment agencies and such requirements are enforced by the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate.

EAS work with other enforcement partners, such as HMRC who enforce National Minimum Wage legislation. EAS share information with HMRC where there is information to suggest non-compliance with National Minimum Wage legislation, as well as with other enforcement partners to protect vulnerable workers in the labour market.

Q
(Stevenage)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 June 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support his Department provides for disabled individuals who need to move due to the changing nature of their disabilities but may be prevented from doing so due to the recovery of a Support for Mortgage loan.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 17 June 2019

Over time someone’s house is likely to increase in value, so it is reasonable to expect those who have received taxpayers’ help towards their mortgage to repay from the equity released when the property is sold. However, the repayment of the loan should not be a barrier to people improving their lives. We have considered this and I am pleased to announce that we will be introducing the option for home-owners to defer repayment of their SMI loan when moving to a new home. This means that claimants who need to move, for example, because of the changing nature of a disability or for better career opportunities, are not prevented from doing so. These new arrangements require changes to regulations which I will bring forward as soon as the Parliamentary timetable allows.

Q
Asked by Chris Ruane
(Vale of Clwyd)
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Wales Office
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, on how many occasions his Department has received representations from the UK Statistics Authority on his Department's presentation and use of statistics in each year since 2010.
A
Answered by: Alun Cairns
Answered on: 17 June 2019

Details on the UK Statistics Authority’s interventions are published in the correspondence, publications, and issues log sections of their website since 2010.

The Authority’s Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) also carry out regular assessments and systemic reviews, details of which can also be found on the Authority’s website.

In September 2018, the Authority published the first annual summary of its interventions for the financial year 2017/18. The report for 2018/19 will be published in the autumn.

Q
(Dewsbury)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 12 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of President Trump's state visit in June.
A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The cost of the State Visit to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be published in the usual way on the gov.uk website before the end of the year.

Q
Asked by Norman Lamb
(North Norfolk)
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Wales Office
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, how many meetings he has held with his Department’s Chief Scientific Adviser between 1 March 2019 and 31 May 2019.
A
Answered by: Alun Cairns
Answered on: 17 June 2019

None. The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales does not have a Chief Scientific Adviser.

Q
Asked by Neil Gray
(Airdrie and Shotts)
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Women and Equalities
Department for Transport: Equality
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what progress her Department has made on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 10 to reduce inequality within and among countries in respect of inequality within the UK.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 14 June 2019

The UK will present a Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the United Nations in July 2019, setting out the UK’s contribution to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at home and abroad. The report will include the Government’s progress in supporting delivery of Goal 10 to reduce inequality within and among countries and will include an assessment of the UK’s efforts to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all and reduce inequalities of outcome and discriminatory laws, policies and practices.

Q
(Bristol East)
Asked on: 03 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Soya Beans: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans the Government has to set baseline import standards and due diligence requirements on companies importing soy.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 14 June 2019

Imports of fruit and vegetables, including soy and soy-based products, from outside the European Union must meet the same standards as food produced in the EU.

Maintaining safety and public confidence in the food we eat is of the highest priority. Without exception, imports must meet all the relevant UK product rules and regulations. The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer onto the UK statute book all current EU food safety and animal welfare standards.

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