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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UIN

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
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 05 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Jerusalem and West Bank: Palestinians
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the number and frequency of eviction orders issued to and the forced displacement of Palestinians in (a) East Jerusalem and (b) the West Bank.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 13 February 2019

Whilst we have not made any recent assessment of this issue, the Government supports Bedouin communities and Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank and Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem facing demolition or eviction through our legal aid programme. This helps residents challenge decisions in the Israeli legal system. We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the increase in demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 05 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israeli Settlements
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the number of Israeli settlers in (a) East Jerusalem and (b) the West Bank.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 13 February 2019

There are an estimated 622,670 settlers in the West Bank. This figure is derived from two sources: According to data provided by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2017, 413,400 people were living in the settlements of the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem. According to data provided by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, the population of the Israeli neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem numbered 209,270 people at the end of 2016.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Middle East: Human Rights
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the challenges facing human rights defenders and rights-focused organisations operating in (a) Israel and (b) the occupied Palestinian territories.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 13 February 2019

The UK remains concerned about the challenges facing human rights defenders and human rights organisations operating in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We continue to urge the Israeli Government to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of human rights defenders and organisations. We have also raised concerns with the Palestinian Authority about the narrowing of space for civil society to operate in the West Bank.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Department for International Development
Burma: Internally Displaced People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent estimate she has made of the number of internally-displaced persons in Myanmar in the most recent period for which figures are available; and what assessment she has made of trends in the number of internally-displaced people in Myanmar in the last three years.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 13 February 2019

The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Burma has increased in the last three years. The UN reports that there are 106,290 displaced people in Kachin and northern Shan states and 127,987 internally displaced persons in Rakhine State. Figures for northern Rakhine are difficult to gather as the Burmese government has restricted access for the UN and other agencies.

The UK provides humanitarian assistance in all these areas, but this is highly limited by government restrictions. The UK Government continues to push for access at every opportunity.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sri Lanka: Human Rights
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of progress on Sri Lankan adherence to measures outlined in (a) Resolution 30/1 of the 30th Session of the UNHRC in 2015 and (b) Resolution 34/1 of the 34th Session of the UNHRC in 2017; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 12 February 2019

The UK continues to encourage and support Sri Lanka to deliver the commitments it made to the UN Human Rights Council through Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. We firmly believe that this is the best framework for establishing truth and to achieve justice and lasting reconciliation.

The UK welcomed the Annual Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 21 March 2018, which assessed progress made by the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. This found that the Government of Sri Lanka had taken some steps to address human rights concerns and to introduce more democratic and accountable government. These steps included the return of some military-held civilian land, the establishment of an Office of Missing Persons and the ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

However, as I made clear to Foreign Minister Marapana on my visit to Colombo in October 2018, more needs to be done. During my visit, I encouraged greater progress, in particular on national accountability and truth-seeking mechanisms, and the development of new counter-terrorism legislation in line with international human rights standards. I was pleased to see that, following my visit, the Sri Lankan Parliament had passed a bill to establish an Office of Reparations. I look forward to seeing this implemented in the near future.

I continued to press for progress with Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in January, as the Minister for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, did with Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

Grouped Questions: 217452
Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sri Lanka: Tamils
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Sri Lankan counterpart on the human rights of the Tamil community in that country.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 12 February 2019

The UK continues to encourage and support Sri Lanka to deliver the commitments it made to the UN Human Rights Council through Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. We firmly believe that this is the best framework for establishing truth and to achieve justice and lasting reconciliation.

The UK welcomed the Annual Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 21 March 2018, which assessed progress made by the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. This found that the Government of Sri Lanka had taken some steps to address human rights concerns and to introduce more democratic and accountable government. These steps included the return of some military-held civilian land, the establishment of an Office of Missing Persons and the ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

However, as I made clear to Foreign Minister Marapana on my visit to Colombo in October 2018, more needs to be done. During my visit, I encouraged greater progress, in particular on national accountability and truth-seeking mechanisms, and the development of new counter-terrorism legislation in line with international human rights standards. I was pleased to see that, following my visit, the Sri Lankan Parliament had passed a bill to establish an Office of Reparations. I look forward to seeing this implemented in the near future.

I continued to press for progress with Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in January, as the Minister for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, did with Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

Grouped Questions: 217451
Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Human Rights
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in North Korea; and what representations he has made and to whom on that subject.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 12 February 2019

The UK continues to have grave concerns over the human rights situation in North Korea. The Foreign Secretary made clear his strong concerns about freedoms in North Korea at the launch of the review into the Persecution of Christians across the Globe, on 30 January. The British Government raises its concerns over the human rights situation directly with the North Korean authorities and in multilateral fora including the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council. We urge North Korea to use its upcoming Universal Periodic Review in May as a moment to engage in meaningful dialogue on its human rights record.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
[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: 05 February 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Israel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will place in the Library a copy of the draft UK-Israel agreement that has been agreed in principle for trading arrangements after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are signed.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
[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: 05 February 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Israel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the trade deal agreed in principle between the UK and Israel for trade after the UK leaves the EU announced on 23 January 2019 will continue to distinguish in relevant dealings between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are signed.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
[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: 05 February 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Israel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the new UK-Israel agreement-in-principle contains a territorial clause limiting its application to within Israel’s pre-June 1967 borders.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are signed.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
[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: 05 February 2019
Department for International Trade
Trade Agreements: Israel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how his Department defines the territorial scope of pre-existing agreements between the UK and Israel.
A
Answered by: George Hollingbery
Answered on: 08 February 2019

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship. However, we do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the settlements, as part of Israel. The OPTs are not covered by the current EU-Israel Association Agreement, nor by the Continuity Agreement agreed in principle between the UK and Israel.

We are also working to finalise the transition of the current EU Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

We have committed to informing Parliament as soon as agreements are signed with partner countries. The agreement will be laid in Parliament and we will be publishing a full report on trade agreements, once they are signed.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 29 January 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Drugs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that GP surgeries are supplied with adequate guidance for patients on their medication in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
A
Answered by: Stephen Hammond
Answered on: 06 February 2019

Guidance issued to all National Health Service trusts, pharmacies and general practices by the Department and NHS England has informed them of our plans for ensuring continuity of supply of medicines and advised them that they can expect to be able to continue accessing medicines through their existing supply routes in the event of a ‘no deal’ European Union exit. General practitioners (GPs) and providers should continue to prescribe medicines and other medical products as normal.

On 23 August 2018, my Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care sent a letter to NHS England outlining preparations for the EU Exit, including in relation to General Practice. On 21 December 2018, the EU Exit Operational Guidance for the Health and Social Care system, including GPs, was issued. On 18 January 2019, a joint letter from the Department and NHS England from chief pharmacist, Keith Ridge, was sent to GPs, pharmacists and senior leaders within the NHS.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 29 January 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Gambling: Sports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of (a) trends in the level of betting on football, (b) the effect of in-play betting on gambling levels and (c) the adequacy of existing regulations on gambling advertising in relation to sport.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 06 February 2019

The Gambling Commission publishes Industry Statistics twice a year. These demonstrate an upward trend for remote betting on football, where gross gambling yield (GGY, the amount retained by operators after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of the costs of the operation) increased from £578 million to a little over £1 billion between 2015 and 2018. In the same period, offline betting on football fell by roughly one fifth, from £331 million to £265 million. This data can be found here: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/Statistics-and-research/Statistics/Industry-statistics.aspx

The Commission also tracks gambling participation rates and data for 2017 showed that football and horse racing were the most popular activities to place a bet on, with 5% of respondents having bet on football in the past four weeks, and 4% having done so for horse racing. This report also includes data on in-play betting, and found that 26% of online gamblers had made a bet in-play during the past four weeks, a figure relatively consistent with the previous years. The most recent report can be found here: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/survey-data/gambling-participation-in-2017-behaviour-awareness-and-attitudes.pdf.

Strict controls apply to the content of all gambling advertisements, including broadcast adverts and online, and adverts for gambling must not be broadcast in or around children’s TV programmes.

The Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures set out a package of measures to strengthen protections around advertising further. These include significantly strengthened guidance from the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) on protecting vulnerable people which restricted urgent calls-to-action, such as ‘bet now’ adverts, tougher sanctions for operators who breach advertising codes and a multi-million pound safer gambling advertising campaign, which will include responsible gambling messages around sports. More recently, the gambling industry has announced that it will introduce a whistle to whistle ban on adverts during sporting events. We will continue to monitor issues around advertising and consider any new evidence carefully.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
[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: 29 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hebron: Israel
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on regional security of the Israeli Government's decision not to renew the mandate of the international observatory task force in Hebron; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 04 February 2019

​While we have not made any assessment of this decision, our Ambassador to Israel raised our concerns over this issue with the Israeli authorities on 29 January.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 22 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
UN Human Rights Council
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will list his Department's priorities for the United Nations Human Rights Council session in March 2019.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 30 January 2019

​The Government's priority for all sessions of the UN Human Rights Council is to ensure that it holds those responsible for human rights violations and abuses to account, effectively addresses global threats to human rights, and strengthens protections for the future. At the 40th session, we envisage specific priorities will include the human rights situation in Syria, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Libya and South Sudan, and thematic priorities of media freedom, human rights defenders, and freedom of religion or belief.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 24 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Omar Shakir
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, further to the Answer of 5 June 2018 to Question HL8092, if he will make further representations to the Israeli authorities the concerns of the UK government regarding the threatened deportation of Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director, Human Rights Watch.
A
Answered by: Alistair Burt
Answered on: 30 January 2019

It is ultimately up to Israel to determine its immigration policy. The UK's immigration policy is similarly protected. We last made representations to the Israeli authorities on this issue in May 2018.​

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
[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: 18 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
India: Rohingya
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to the government of India on non-refoulement of Rohingya refugees.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 23 January 2019

​The former Foreign Secretary raised the plight of Rohingya refugees with his Indian counterpart, the Minister for External Affairs in February 2018. Senior officials at the British High Commission in New Delhi continue to raise the Rohingya with the Indian Ministry for External Affairs, most recently in November 2018. We will continue to raise the issue of the Rohingya and call on India to support safe, voluntary and dignified returns, which respect the rights of Rohingya refugees.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 04 January 2019
Department for Transport
Seaborne Freight
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, on what date a decision was made to include Seaborne Freight in the list of companies to be invited to tender for the provision of cross-channel ferry services.
A
Answered by: Ms Nusrat Ghani
Answered on: 14 January 2019

Decisions to invite companies to tender were made in November. Companies were identified based on their potential to operate Ro-Ro services between the UK and the Continent.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 04 January 2019
Department for Transport
Seaborne Freight
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, between which dates his Department carried out due diligence checks on Seaborne Freight prior to issuing a contract to that company.
A
Answered by: Ms Nusrat Ghani
Answered on: 14 January 2019

Formal checks were undertaken on all bidders during December.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 04 January 2019
Department for Transport
Seaborne Freight
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has confirmed as part of due diligence checks whether Seaborne Freight became VAT registered.
A
Answered by: Ms Nusrat Ghani
Answered on: 14 January 2019

All companies operating out of the UK are required to comply with relevant VAT legislation.

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