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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Q
Asked by Lord Colgrain
Asked on: 04 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Agency: Rural Payments Agency
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Environment Agency computer systems share information with the computer systems of the Rural Payments Agency; and if not, when this might be introduced.
A
Answered on: 18 April 2019

At present, there are no direct system-to-system data exchanges between Rural Payments Agency and Environment Agency systems. Defra is committed to sharing data internally within the Department, externally across Government and with any interested party. Both the Rural Payments Agency and the Environment Agency publish datasets on the publicly available Defra Multi-Agency Geographic Information for the Countryside website, and within the Defra Spatial Repository and Toolkits which are accessible to all Defra Group organisations. Defra also publishes more than 8,000 datasets, which are publicly available under open licence.

However, both organisations have access to the Defra Customer and Land Database (CLAD) which is due to be replaced in 2019 by a system called CLARIS, which will enable the Environment Agency to have access to Rural Payments Agency land data. Additionally, the Rural Payments Agency periodically provides the Environment Agency with a manual extract of data relating to the ownership of land within Nitrate Vulnerable Zones for cross-compliance purposes.

As part of its wider consolidation and upgrade of IT systems the Defra Group is adopting shared IT platforms, for example cloud email services, document management, customer relationship management and identity management platforms. Agency data will coexist within the same physical platforms which may facilitate data sharing where there is a specific purpose for that data to be shared, and this is done in accordance with regulations such as the Data Protection Act and appropriate interagency data sharing agreements.

Asked on: 04 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Cattle: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many live calves under two months old were exported in each year from 2014 to 2018; and what percentage of the total amount of the calves exported went for slaughter in each of those years.
A
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) issues Export Health Certificates (EHC) for animals and products of animal origin. APHA does not record the age of animals when they are exported. The following information is taken from consignments of Bovine animals exported to the EU in 2016, 2017 and 2018 where a consignment included unweaned animals.

In 2016 a total of 3786 bovine animals were recorded as being exported on a Journey Log containing unweaned animals

In 2017 a total of 6024 bovine animals were recorded as being exported on a Journey Log containing unweaned animals

In 2018 a total of 5425 bovine animals were recorded as being exported on a Journey Log containing unweaned animals

None of the animals were exported directly for slaughter.

This data includes exports from holdings in England, Scotland and Wales. Movements between Northern Ireland (NI) and The Republic of Ireland (RoI) is a devolved matter, data for this can be requested from DAERA.

Asked on: 04 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sheep: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many live sheep were exported in each year from 2014 to 2018; where those sheep were exported to; and what percentage of the total amount of sheep exported went for slaughter in each of those years.
A
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The table for the total number of sheep exported in the years 2014 to 2018, including the destination country and the percentage of sheep exported for slaughter in each year is set out below.

Year

Country exported to

Total

Percentage of the total number of sheep exported went for slaughter

2014

52886

4.90%

Austria

53

Belgium

6216

Czech Republic

8

Denmark

2

Estonia

15

France

26357

Germany

1804

Guernsey

2

Ireland

142

isle of Man

668

Italy

332

Jersey

3

Latvia

97

Malta

4

Northern Ireland

8171

Romania

30

Switzerland

55

The Netherlands

8927

2015

40824

8.10%

Belgium

2696

France

23858

Germany

562

Guernsey

2

Ireland

770

Isle of Man

404

Italy

58

Lithuania

25

Northern Ireland

7381

Poland

5

Portugal

6

Romania

12

Switzerland

51

The Netherlands

4994

2016

66165

10.60%

Austria

49

Belgium

4319

Denmark

3

Estonia

28

Finland

15

France

20225

Germany

15028

Guernsey

9

Hungary

23

Ireland

1079

Isle of Man

3265

Italy

66

Jersey

22

Latvia

37

Northern Ireland

10085

Spain

14

Switzerland

118

The Netherlands

11780

2017

44781

20%

Austria

2

Belgium

7278

Czech Republic

13

Estonia

12

France

8719

Germany

1781

Ireland

5889

Isle of Man

4944

Italy

32

Jersey

8

Northern Ireland

11989

Portugal

68

Romania

13

Spain

45

Sweden

19

Switzerland

97

The Netherlands

3872

2018

40626

9.30%

Austria

3

Belgium

2347

Croatia (Local Name: Hrvatska)

99

Estonia

73

France

12506

Germany

208

Guernsey

8

Hungary

1

Ireland

11042

Isle of Man

648

Italy

39

Jersey

68

Lithuania

108

Northern Ireland

10711

Portugal

92

Romania

68

Serbia

30

Spain

53

Switzerland

158

The Netherlands

2364

This data includes exports from holdings in England, Scotland and Wales. Movements between Northern Ireland (NI) and The Republic of Ireland (RoI) is a devolved matter, data for this can be requested from DAERA.

Asked on: 04 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Cattle: Exports
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many live cattle were exported in each year from 2014 to 2018; and what percentage of the total amount of cattle exported went for slaughter in each of those years.
A
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The below table shows the number of cattle exported from Great Britain and the percentage of cattle exported for slaughter from Great Britain from 2014 to 2018.

Year

Total number of cattle exported

Percentage of cattle exported that went for slaughter

2014

7,539

45.60%

2015

5,212

39.70%

2016

11,070

23.30%

2017

17,960

36.40%

2018

15,183

33.80%

Grand Total

56,964

Of the 56,964 animals exported from 2014 to 2018, 19,781 were exported directly for slaughter. Of this number, 18,629 were destined for Northern Ireland.

This data includes exports from holdings in England, Scotland and Wales. Movements between Northern Ireland (NI) and The Republic of Ireland (RoI) is a devolved matter, data for this can be requested from DEARA.

Asked on: 04 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Yemen: Arms Trade
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 28 March (HL14604), whether third parties have provided information specifically about weapons made or sold by British companies and then used in Yemen; and if so, whether they will publish (1) that information, and (2) their assessment of it.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 18 April 2019

We are aware that some UK licensed weapons have been used by Saudi Arabia in the conflict in Yemen. We examine every export licence application rigorously on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, including an assessment of whether there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law (IHL). We regularly raise the importance of compliance with IHL with the Saudi Arabian Government and other members of the Coalition and draw on a range of sources in making assessments, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations and continue to monitor the situation closely, seeking further information where appropriate. We welcome any further information NGOs and international organisations can provide. The Department for International Trade publish export licensing statistics quarterly, which can be found on the gov.uk website.

Asked on: 08 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture Bill
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Young of Cookham on 25 March (HL Deb, col 1612), when they will respond to the concerns raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on their approach to delegated powers in the Agriculture Bill, as set out in that Committee's Thirty Fourth Report, published on 17 October 2018 (HL Paper 194).
A
Answered on: 18 April 2019

Defra acknowledges the concerns raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The department is considering all elements of the Committee’s Report and how these might be addressed. The Agriculture Bill is to be scheduled for Commons Report Stage in due course.

It is the Government’s intention to respond to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, before Commons Report stage, as indicated in our letter to the Committee dated 17 January.

Asked on: 09 April 2019
Department for Transport
Air Space
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to amend UK airspace regulations after Brexit; and whether any such plans would be affected by a no-deal Brexit.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The Government is aiming to ensure that UK airspace remains interoperable with neighbouring EU airspace. In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the provisions of the EU airspace and air traffic management regulations would be replicated in national law under the EU Withdrawal Act. The UK would also continue to be a member of the intergovernmental organisation, Eurocontrol, providing a mechanism to coordinate on airspace issues with other European States.

Q
Asked by Jeff Smith
(Manchester, Withington)
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Health Services: Ethnic Groups
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2019 to Question 203453 on Mental Health Services: Ethnic Groups, if he will publish a time-frame for the Department’s plan to appoint a mental health equalities champion.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The Department has appointed Jacqui Dyer MBE as the Mental Health Equalities Champion. She took up her appointment on 22 February 2019.

Q
Asked by Kate Green
(Stretford and Urmston)
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Legal Aid Scheme
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the process is by which the civil and criminal legal aid means test thresholds have been evaluated since they were last reviewed and uprated in 2008 and 2009.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 April 2019
Holding answer received on 17 April 2019

The financial thresholds for civil and criminal legal aid were reviewed by MoJ Ministers in January 2010, March 2011 and March 2016, following advice from officials. Separately, the means test thresholds were reviewed at official level within MoJ in January 2012 and between October 2013 and January 2014.

The Legal Aid Means Test Review, announced by MoJ in February 2019, will be studying the thresholds for legal aid entitlement, including the effectiveness with which the means testing arrangements appropriately protect access to justice, particularly for the vulnerable. As part of the review process, we will evaluate a wide range of evidence from both within and outside of government, liaising with experts from across the field to explore any improvements to the system.

Upon conclusion of the review, expected by summer 2020, we will publish a full consultation paper setting out our future policy proposals in this area. We will seek to implement any final recommendations as soon as practicable following public consultation.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans he has to ensure that prisoners are not released without providing them with suitable accommodation.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 April 2019

It is vital that everyone leaving prison has somewhere stable and secure to live. Having somewhere stable to live acts as a platform for ex-offenders to be able to access the services and support needed to turn their back on crime for good. Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS) are required to facilitate access to housing for the offenders that they are managing. This includes working together with local partners to help offenders find and maintain accommodation as part of a package of support tailored to meet their individual needs.

We are investing an additional £22m per annum over the remaining life of the CRC contracts to ensure that CRCs deliver an enhanced Through The Gate service to offenders leaving prison. Alongside this investment we have introduced a new Through the Gate specification which will ensure that CRCs complete specific tasks, including to help every prisoner to secure and maintain settled accommodation.

As part of the Government initiative to reduce and ultimately eliminate rough sleeping across England, we are investing up to £6.4 million over two years in a pilot scheme to help ex-offenders into accommodation from three prisons, namely Bristol, Pentonville and Leeds. The pilots will focus on male prisoners who have served shorter sentences and have been identified as having a risk of homelessness. We have launched our Invitation to Tender, to secure suppliers in the three pilot areas, and aim to award contracts in late April 2019. This is a concrete step in our commitment to tackling rough sleeping.

.

Q
(Leicester South)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Climate Change and Environment Protection: Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the teaching of (a) environmental protection and (b) climate change in schools.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, published in January 2018, sets out the ambition to improve the environment within a generation. As part of the plan the Department for Education (DfE) has worked with Defra and Natural England on the Children and Nature Programme, a £10 million programme which aims to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to the natural environment. The programme has been designed to make it possible for schools to undertake a range of activities in natural spaces, such as learning about nature and how to care for the natural environment. This programme complements the scope that already exists to study environmental issues throughout the curriculum, in particular in science and geography lessons.

Defra and the DfE regularly work together on ways to make children aware of issues that impact on the environment and how they can help tackle them. There is scope to study environmental issues throughout the curriculum. For example, in primary school science, pupils are taught that environments can change and this can pose a danger to living things. In geography at key stage 3, pupils will look at how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate. In GCSE, science pupils will consider the evidence and uncertainties in evidence, for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change. In 2017, we introduced new environmental science A level for those students who want to study this area of science in more detail.

Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Wellingborough Prison: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to page 8 of the Prison Operator Competition Brochure, published by HM Prison & Probation Service in November 2018, what new requirements have been developed for HMP Wellingborough.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 April 2019

Under the Prison Operator Services Framework Competition, bidders will be expected to comply with and deliver all of the requirements that are set out in the published Custodial Service Specifications, together with a bespoke set of requirements created for the first call-off competition for the new Resettlement Prison at Wellingborough. These bespoke requirements take into account the function and design of the new prison, and are intended to enhance service delivery and drive successful resettlement outcomes.

I have placed the attached Contract Summary in the library of the House

Grouped Questions: 243528 | 243529
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to page 8 of the Prison Operator Competition Brochure, published by HM Prison & Probation Service in November 2018, what Quality Points will be used in the evaluation of call-off competitions.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 April 2019

As referenced on page 8 of the Prison Operator Competition Brochure the criteria for the qualitative assessment of bids have not been finalised. However, they will include, but will not be limited to, questions on custodial services, operational resources, property and facilities management, mobilisation, commercial and finance. There will also be an assessment of price.

Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to page 9 of the Prison Operator Competition Brochure, published by HM Prison & Probation Service in November 2018, what the 700+ requirements that bidders will be expected to navigate are.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 April 2019

Under the Prison Operator Services Framework Competition, bidders will be expected to comply with and deliver all of the requirements that are set out in the published Custodial Service Specifications, together with a bespoke set of requirements created for the first call-off competition for the new Resettlement Prison at Wellingborough. These bespoke requirements take into account the function and design of the new prison, and are intended to enhance service delivery and drive successful resettlement outcomes.

I have placed the attached Contract Summary in the library of the House

Grouped Questions: 243525 | 243529
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to page 9 of the Prison Operator Competition Brochure, published by HM Prison & Probation Service in November 2018, what the bespoke set of requirements for the first call off are.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 18 April 2019

Under the Prison Operator Services Framework Competition, bidders will be expected to comply with and deliver all of the requirements that are set out in the published Custodial Service Specifications, together with a bespoke set of requirements created for the first call-off competition for the new Resettlement Prison at Wellingborough. These bespoke requirements take into account the function and design of the new prison, and are intended to enhance service delivery and drive successful resettlement outcomes.

I have placed the attached Contract Summary in the library of the House

Grouped Questions: 243525 | 243528
Q
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Transport
Bus Services: Concessions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to meet the £652 million funding gap, identified by analysis from the Local Government Association published on 9 February, required to cover the total costs of the National Concessionary Travel Scheme for bus passengers.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 18 April 2019

Funding for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) is provided to local authorities through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG’s) revenue support grant. This funding is not ringfenced, which enables local authorities to make spending decisions that more closely match local needs and circumstances. It is misleading to talk about the grant in isolation when local authorities have access to council tax, business rates and other local income to deliver their local services.

Q
Asked by Julian Knight
(Solihull)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Seas and Oceans: Conservation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve global ocean conservation.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The UK is working both domestically and internationally to improve global ocean conservation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG14. Internationally, we are leading calls to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030. We are on track to protect 4 million square kilometres of ocean across our Overseas Territories by 2020, and are backing an Ascension Island bid to protect 100% of its offshore waters. To support achievement of the “30by30” target, the UK is working hard to secure the agreement of a new Implementing Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction in 2020.

Domestically, 36% of English inshore and offshore waters are protected within Marine Protected Areas. In addition, we have consulted on a further 41 Marine Conservation Zones. Sites to be designated will be in place by 7 June.

We are also working to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean and are leading global efforts to tackle the problem through our support of the G7 Oceans Plastics Charter, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy and the Commonwealth Blue Charter. In April 2018, we launched the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), which we co-lead with Vanuatu. The CCOA encourages its 25 member countries to take steps to eliminate avoidable single-use plastics, significantly reduce single use plastic carrier bags by 2021 and implement a ban of microbeads in rinse-off personal care products by 2021.

The Government’s forthcoming International Ocean Strategy will set out our plan to work with our international partners to secure a sustainable, prosperous and secure ocean future.

Q
Asked by Ruth Cadbury
(Brentford and Isleworth)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Boats
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what impact assessment has been undertaken to examine the effect of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s proposals for older passenger boats on trends in the level of Environment Agency lock fees.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The Environment Agency’s (EA) boat registration charge proposals for 2019-2021 were approved by Ministers in October 2018, before the Maritime and Coastguard Agency published its consultation on proposed amendments to the technical requirements applicable to UK domestic passenger vessels.

EA charge proposals from 2021 will be subject to a full public consultation and also a business impact target assessment. The EA has committed to involving stakeholders in developing these proposals, in particular engaging the marine trade, through British Marine – the UK industry body which represents the interests of passenger boat operators.

Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Health Services: Hearing Impairment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that deaf people are able to access appropriate, specialist mental health services.
A
Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 18 April 2019

NHS England commissions specialised mental health services for children, young people and adults who are deaf. These include inpatient and outreach services for children and young people and services for adults who require inpatient care, including care in secure mental health services.

Access to services is based on a clinical assessment of need and conducted with the support and involvement of clinicians, including consultant psychiatrists and mental health nurses, with the skills and experience of working with deaf people with mental illness and are able to communicate using British Sign Language where needed.

To further develop these services, the Specialised Mental Health Clinical Reference Group provides advice and support to NHS England about improving commissioning, including through service specifications and quality schemes.

Q
Asked by Mark Menzies
(Fylde)
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Flood Control: Fylde
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of houses protected in the Fylde constituency as a result of (a) work done to Dock Road pumping station and (b) the Church Scar Coast Protection Scheme.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 18 April 2019

The number of houses better protected from flooding as a result of (a) work done to Dock Road pumping station is 652 and (b) the Church Scar Coast Protection Scheme is 2,347.

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