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
(Stockton South)
[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: 04 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Northumbrian Water
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what meetings her Department has had with Northumbrian Water to discuss preparations for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Q
(Dunfermline and West Fife)
Asked on: 04 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Pollution
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to encourage ports and transport companies involved in the movement of plastic pellets/nurdles to sign up to the British Plastics Federation’s industry-led scheme Operation Clean Sweep to reduce the loss of plastic pellets in transit.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Q
(Dunfermline and West Fife)
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to improve the UK’s Ocean Health Index score.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Q
(Dunfermline and West Fife)
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress has been made on analysing the results of the consultation on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic drinks containers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Q
Asked by Luke Pollard
(Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the timetable is for the conclusion of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Q
Asked by Luke Pollard
(Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Primates: Pets
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has plans to bring forward legislative proposal to ban the keeping of primates as pets.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Q
Asked by Faisal Rashid
(Warrington South)
Asked on: 05 September 2019
Department for International Development
Developing Countries: Living Wage
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what funding her Department has allocated to programmes supporting the payment of living wages in global value chains; and whether this funding is supporting workers in the cocoa sector.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 09 September 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

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: 22 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pets: Tagging
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to create a centrally accessible database logging pets' microchip numbers and date of entry into the UK.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 06 September 2019

It is already a requirement for every dog in the UK to be identified by a microchip and its details to be recorded on a recognised database. This includes dogs imported from outside the UK. Defra will shortly be issuing a call for evidence on whether to introduce compulsory microchipping for all cats in England. Furthermore, all pets (cats, dogs and ferrets) entering Great Britain on approved routes have their microchip scanned and recorded by the carrier at the time of travel.

We do not consider it necessary at this time to introduce an additional database along the lines proposed.

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: 22 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pets: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all dog and cat rehoming centres are adequately regulated.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 06 September 2019

As with anyone who owns or keeps animals, rescue and rehoming centres are subject to the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which means they must provide for the animals’ welfare needs and protect them from pain, injury and disease. During the consultation on whether to ban the third party selling of puppies and kittens, carried out last year, we included a question about whether rescue and rehoming centres should be regulated. We need to be confident of the benefits and the impacts of any regulations placed on rescue and rehoming centres, particularly on some of the smaller rescues. We will put forward legislative proposals at the earliest possible point, once we have fully consulted with the sector and understood the impact of any proposals.

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: 23 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department is taking to increase collaboration between the Animal and Plant Health Agency and veterinary regulatory authorities in other countries to tackle provision of fake pet passports and veterinary certificates for dogs being imported into the UK.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 06 September 2019

Defra takes the issue of illegal dog and puppy imports very seriously. This is an abhorrent trade which causes suffering to the smuggled dogs and puts the health of pets and people in the UK at risk. Defra is working hard to tackle the problem through a comprehensive approach that seeks to target both the supply and demand of illegally imported dogs.

International engagement is one aspect of this approach. It takes place through Defra, with input from APHA intelligence and expertise. Under Article 26 of EU Regulation 1/2005 (on the protection of animals during transport and related operations), Defra notify Member States of the origin of the transporter where a welfare issue with an import has been identified. We send these to notify the Member State so that they can take remedial action to ensure that the transporter complies in future. The notifications include details of passports and certificates. The UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) has written to her counterparts in countries where illegally imported dogs typically originate, including (most recently) her counterparts in Hungary and Serbia. The issue also continues to be raised and discussed at EU CVO meetings.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 23 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Food Supply
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the legal responsibility of local authorities to provide food in a time of crisis extends to (a) children, (b) people on a low income, (c) elderly people, (d) disabled people and (e) housebound people.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 06 September 2019

Food is a critical national infrastructure sector and Defra has lead Government department oversight of responsibility for food supply in England. The policy is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the constitutional settlement.

Defra is not responsible for the supply of food and drink to the population in an emergency, and the expertise, capability and levers to plan for and respond to food supply disruption lie within the industry. However, we have well established relationships with the food and drink sectors, and we work collaboratively with the food industry and across Government to support coherent and robust industry contingency planning and response in the event of an incident situation. The food industry is experienced in dealing with scenarios that can affect food supply.

Local authorities do not have a general duty to provide food but have duties to provide food to particular groups in particular circumstances, including schools and care settings. Public sector food provision for specific sectors is led by the relevant Government departments. Defra works with lead Departments (including DfE, DHSC and MoJ) to support their contingency planning for food supply to public services. Defra’s role involves providing advice and support to these departments who in turn work with their public services to ensure that supply is resilient.

We are committed to a strong safety net for those who need it, which is why this Government continues to spend over £90 billion a year on welfare benefits.

Q
Asked by Dr Rupa Huq
(Ealing Central and Acton)
Asked on: 02 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Exports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to ban the export of live animals from the UK for slaughter and fattening abroad.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 06 September 2019

I refer the Honourable Member to the reply given to the Honourable Member for Crewe and Nantwich, on 2 July 2019; PQ UIN 268497.

Q
(Clwyd West)
[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: 24 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Eggs: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that imported liquid and powdered egg products are compliant with UK food standards after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 05 September 2019

Our high animal welfare, environmental and biosecurity standards are of critical importance to the UK and we are committed to ensuring those standards are maintained when we leave the EU. We have been clear that we will not water down our standards in pursuit of trade deals.

As a member of the EU we share standards of biosecurity with other Member States. This has facilitated the free movement of these goods between Member States. In the short term those standards will not change. Furthermore, to ensure minimum disruption at the UK border, we will not introduce new border controls on these goods imported from the EU. Import requirements relating to welfare will also be retained.

To ensure we remain vigilant, we will require advance notification of imports of high risk food and feed from the EU. This includes products of animal origin and high risk food and feed not of animal origin. The Food Standards Agency will be in a position to monitor those notifications so that, in the event of a food incident occurring involving imported food or feed, it will be able to respond effectively to safeguard public health by swiftly identifying the point of entry to the UK and the spread of a problem. We will also be reviewing our imports regime once we leave the EU.

For imports from countries outside the EU we will maintain the current controls, and consignments of animal products will continue to be required to enter at UK Border Inspection Posts for veterinary checks. Notification will be required using the UK Import of Products, Animals and Food and Feed System. These controls will also apply to products of animal origin that come from outside the EU, but travel through the EU before arriving in the UK.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
[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: 25 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Tree Planting: Urban Areas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what funding her Department is making available for planting or replanting urban trees to replace trees that have been removed due to disease or decay.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 05 September 2019

There are no grants available specifically for the replacement of trees removed due to disease or decay, but there are opportunities for funding or new planting in and around our towns and cities under the recently launched £10 million Urban Tree Challenge Fund. This fund will support the planting of up to 130,000 trees across towns and cities in England, and contributes to our manifesto commitment to plant one million urban trees by 2022.

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: 02 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban cages for all farm animals in the UK.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 05 September 2019

The issue of cages for farmed animals is one in which the government is taking a close interest. We have already banned cages or close confinement systems where there is clear scientific evidence that they are detrimental to animal health and welfare. We banned the keeping of calves in veal crates in 1990, sixteen years before the rest of the EU. We banned the keeping of sows in close confinement stalls in the UK in 1999, and conventional battery cages for laying hens in 2012. I am pleased that the UK has by far the largest free range laying hen sector of any EU country, with over 50% of our hens kept in free range systems.

The government is actively looking into the use of cages and we will be considering the full range of options that are available for future reform.

Q
Asked by Dr Rupa Huq
(Ealing Central and Acton)
Asked on: 02 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Animal Welfare
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the merits of banning the caging of farmed animals.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 05 September 2019

The issue of cages for farmed animals is one in which the government is taking a close interest. We have already banned cages or close confinement systems where there is clear scientific evidence that they are detrimental to animal health and welfare. We banned the keeping of calves in veal crates in 1990, sixteen years before the rest of the EU. We banned the keeping of sows in close confinement stalls in the UK in 1999, and conventional battery cages for laying hens in 2012. I am pleased that the UK has by far the largest free range laying hen sector of any EU country, with over 50% of our hens kept in free range systems.

The government is actively looking into the use of cages and we will be considering the full range of options that are available for future reform.

Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North West)
[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: 02 September 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Amazonia: Fires
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support his Department is giving to indigenous people in the Amazon affected by major forest fires; and what steps his Department is taking to discourage forest burning by logging and farming interests in Brazil.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 05 September 2019

The increase in forest fires in the Amazon is a tragedy for all of us, but none more so than the indigenous people who call the Amazon their home. These fires are made more likely by deforestation, and that is why we have invested nearly £120 million of our international climate finance in projects to limit deforestation, support local and indigenous people, prevent forest fires and implement the Forest Code in the Amazon, Atlantic Forest and Cerrado biomes.

We will continue to work with Brazilian partners at federal and sub-national levels to help them protect the Amazon, and to support the transition to a low carbon economy. The first phase of Defra’s £24.9 million Low-carbon Agriculture programme, for example, completed in May this year. It reached over 18,500 beneficiaries in the Amazon and Atlantic forest biomes, avoided the clearance of 175,000 hectares of land, reduced carbon emissions by 52% and delivered a seven-fold increase in livestock productivity.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
[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: 24 July 2019
Department for International Development
Fossil Fuels: Development Aid
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the Green Finance Strategy: Transforming Finance for a Greener Future, published in July 2019, under what circumstances and using what criteria the Government will determine that Official Development Assistance spent on investment support for fossil fuels is in line with the Paris Agreement temperature goals and transition plans.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 03 September 2019

The Government is committed to achieving the Paris Agreement climate goals and is increasingly putting environment and climate at the heart of UK Aid. The majority of UK Official Development Assistance for energy either supports renewable energy, helps governments to improve sector policy and governance, or supports energy research. UK Aid has helped over 17 million people with improved access to clean energy.

We do not provide direct assistance for coal-fired generation.

For other fossil fuels our approach is to support their development where there is a clear developmental need and as part of a transition to low-carbon economies. In assessing new support, we will ensure that assistance does not undermine the ambition in a country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and that an appropriate carbon price is used in the appraisal of the programme.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
[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: 22 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Donkeys: Animal Products
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with (a) China and (b) countries in east Africa on ending the international trade in donkey skins; and what recent steps he has taken to help implement an international ban on the trade in donkey skins.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 08 August 2019

Defra takes the welfare of donkeys and other equids very seriously and has taken an active role in global efforts to monitor and strengthen welfare standards for these species. This included contributing to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Code chapter on Welfare or Working Equids adopted by OIE members in 2016, which provides species specific guidance to complement the general welfare principles applying to all animals. In addition we have contributed to the EU voluntary initiative developing guidance on responsible ownership and care of equidae. Influencing the raising of global standards through international fora can be an effective and sustainable way to address these issues across the world and therefore have a broader impact than bilateral meetings with particular countries. This is part of the Government’s strong commitment to strengthening welfare standards.

Q
Asked by Dr David Drew
(Stroud)
[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: 22 July 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Electromagnetic Fields
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has commissioned research on the potential effect of electro-magnetic waves on levels of premature deaths in farm animals.
A
Answered by: Zac Goldsmith
Answered on: 08 August 2019

Defra manages an active programme of research to support the health and welfare of livestock. The research programme focusses on prevention and control of infectious diseases as well as covering animal welfare issues. There is no current research funded on electro-magnetic waves and their potential impact from this programme.

Defra does have a regular, consistent systematic process for identifying and assessing new threats to animal health and welfare through the Veterinary Risk Group and the issue has not been raised which could inform future research requirements.

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