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 on: 13 June 2019
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to limit (1) the distance that drones may travel, and (2) the height that drones may reach to 125 metres, to reduce the risk of potential issues in airspace.
A
Answered on: 27 June 2019

The Air Navigation Order 2016 already prohibits flying small unmanned aircraft beyond the line of sight or above 400ft, which is just over 121 metres, without permission or an exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Home Office
Surveillance: Unmanned Air Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the use of drones on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, piracy, kidnappings and other offences combatted by surveillance technologies.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

Decisions to use drones and in which circumstances are operational matters for the Police and other law enforcement agencies.

Q
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Department for Transport
Unmanned Air Vehicles: Regulation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce regulations that require manufacturers to have a signalling beacon on all (1) drones, and (2) other flying toys.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have published new product standards for drones which will become fully applicable by 2022. Some of these standards include the mandatory requirement for drones to be fitted with a geo-awareness software before being placed on the market. This software will notify the pilot when the drone is entering a restricted zone and when it’s coming close to other aircraft. This new requirement will ensure that our airspace is safely shared and managed more effectively to maintain the UK’s strong air safety record.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Business: Cybercrime
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance and support they provide to businesses in relation to cyber security; and whether they intend to introduce systems for businesses to assess the adequacy of (1) their protection against cyber threats, and (2) their cyber security skills.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 24 June 2019

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was created in 2016 as part of the Government's five-year, £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy and provides guidance and support to businesses and public sector organisations on all matters relating to cyber security. This includes the Small Business Guide, a Response and Recovery guide, a toolkit for Boards and an "Exercise In a Box" to help organisations assess their cyber resilience. Through the Cyber Essentials Scheme, companies are already able to assess whether they have put in place security measures to protect themselves against the majority of untargeted cyber attacks.

We are undertaking a comprehensive review of the UK’s cyber regulatory and incentives landscape. This builds on our last review in 2016, to understand what has worked well, and where further action is needed to drive the necessary improvements in cyber security behaviours and practices. This will be done with acknowledgement of the broader asks being placed on business as we look to grow and secure the digital economy. It will include consideration of whether and how businesses should be required to assess the adequacy of their cyber security and whether they have the skills they need to manage cyber security risk.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Commonwealth: Trade
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK High Commissioner or a trade official attended the recent Commonwealth SME Summit in Nairobi; if not, why not; and if so, what conclusions they drew from that summit.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

​A representative of the British High Commission in Nairobi attended the Intra-Commonwealth SME Trade Summit in Nairobi in May, which noted the trend for the rising value of digital processes in SMEs' production and the need for SMEs to adapt to the increased global competition through digital technologies. The conclusions drawn included the need for Governments to promote national data policies and devise policies designed to protect infant domestic e-commerce platforms from the practices of larger, established companies. A recurring theme was the need to build SME digital capacity, with a role for tech hubs and incubators. In March, the UK also co-chaired the first meeting of the Digital Cluster of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment when Kenya joined representatives from 18 other Commonwealth countries to discuss how the Commonwealth can support development and increase trade by creating a more enabling environment for digital trade.

Q
Asked on: 10 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the successes which can be attributed to their sanctions policies.
A
Answered on: 20 June 2019

The UK plays a leading role in the development and implementation of sanctions in the EU and the UN. Sanctions are always used as part of a broader political strategy and are designed to change, coerce or send a political signal regarding particular behaviour(s). Whilst linking behaviour change explicitly to sanctions can be challenging, we have some evidence to suggest that sanctions on individuals can lead to their removal from positions of power and reduce their ability to carry out harmful actions. Collective sanctions through the UN or EU, for example the sanctions against the GRU officers who carried out the attack in Salisbury last year, also send a strong political signal that the EU condemns their behaviour.

Q
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Export Credit Guarantees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications for support were approved by UK Export Finance in each of the last five years; and for each such application what was its (1) value, (2) destination country, and (3) sector.
Answered on: 20 June 2019

UK Export Finance (UKEF) publishes details of its support including value, destination country and sector on an annual basis. For 2014-15 this information was published in UKEF’s Annual Report and Accounts. From 2015-16 onwards this information has been published alongside Annual Report and Accounts as transparency data. This information is available on UKEF’s website.

The table is taken from UKEF’s 2017-18 Annual Report and Accounts and shows a five-year summary of facilities issued.

2017-18

2016-17

2015-16

2014-15

2013-14

Facilities issued

580

483

593

588

613

Details of UKEF’s support for the last year will be published once its 2018-19 Annual Report and Accounts is laid before Parliament.

The 2017-18 data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/718494/uk_export_finance_businesses_supported_in_2017_to_2018.csv/preview

The 2016-17 data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630876/uk-export-finance-businesses-supported-list-2016-2017-1.csv/preview

The 2015-16 data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-export-finance-business-supported-2015-16/uk-export-finance-business-supported-2015-16

The 2014-15 data can be accessed here on page 70-83: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436270/10417-TSO-UKEF_-Annual_Report_and_Accounts_2014-15-ACCESSIBLE07__2_.pdf

Q
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: INF Treaty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 15 February (HL13545), what discussions they have had with the government of Russia about their compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty; what was the outcome of those discussions; when they took place; whether further such discussions are planned; and if so, when.
A
Answered on: 26 April 2019

​North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Allies first expressed concerns about Russian non-compliance with its Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty obligations in 2014. In the last two years, there has been an intensification of Allied activity to encourage Russia to return to compliance.

Since the US, and subsequently Russia, suspended their participation in the Treaty, we have not discussed INF directly with Russia. During the NATO-Russia Council in January 2019 we and our Allies made clear that NATO is united on the need for Russia to return to full and verifiable compliance to preserve the INF Treaty.

Q
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
European Parliament Members
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the need to ensure that British members of the European Parliament (1) do not disrupt the work of that parliament, and (2) are able to represent British interests appropriately in discharging their duties; and what steps they are taking as a result of any such assessment.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 25 April 2019

The European Council Decision, taken in agreement with the UK on 11 April, includes a duty of sincere cooperation in relation to the extension of Article 50. This includes reference to “the commitment by the United Kingdom to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension”. The full Decision can be found here: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/04/10/20190410-european-council-decision-on-extension/.

If the Withdrawal Agreement has not been ratified by 22 May, we have a legal obligation to hold European Parliament elections as a Member State, as set out under EU treaties, and we will uphold these obligations. We have therefore already started making the necessary domestic preparations in order to prepare for this potential outcome. However, as the Prime Minister has said, we will make every effort to ensure the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by 22 May so that we do not need to hold these elections.

Q
Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Yemen
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports in the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Yemen—Britain's Hidden War that UK contractors have supplied arms that were used in the war in Yemen; what reasons were stated in export licence applications submitted by Saudi Arabia, BAE Systems plc, or any intermediary, for the supply and use of weaponry; and what criteria they use to assess and approve each application.
A
Answered by: Baroness Fairhead
Answered on: 17 April 2019

All arms supplied by UK companies to Saudi Arabia require an export licence. We assess each export licence application very carefully against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the Consolidated Criteria).

The Consolidated Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to think hard about the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities. These are not decisions we take lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

The key test for assessing military exports to Saudi Arabia is Criterion 2(c) of the Consolidated Criteria – whether there is a clear risk that the exports might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

When considering export licence applications, we take into account a wide range of sources and analyses, including reports from non-governmental organisations and the United Nations, as well as those of a sensitive nature to which these parties do not have access. This provides a comprehensive basis on which Government can take informed decisions about export licence applications.

Q
Asked on: 27 March 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Cultural Heritage: Export Controls
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the Waverley Criteria for export controls on objects of cultural interest.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 09 April 2019

The Government has no such plans. The Waverley criteria continue to be the standard against which cultural objects, which are the subject of an export licence application, are judged to determine their national importance and whether an opportunity should be provided to retain them in the UK for the enjoyment of the public. The criteria continue to be held in high esteem.

Q
Asked on: 01 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Brunei: Capital Punishment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Brunei about its decision to impose death by stoning as a punishment for adultery and gay sex; and whether they intend to ban hydrocarbon imports from that country until it alters that policy.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

The Foreign Secretary spoke to Brunei's Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dato Erywan, on 4 April in order to express the UK's deep concern over Brunei's decision to implement the final phases of the Sharia Penal Code.

The Minister for Asia-Pacific delivered a statement to the House of Commons on 4 April addressing the UK position on the implications of Brunei's decision.

We have repeatedly lobbied Brunei about their plans to introduce hudud punishments. The Minister for Asia-Pacific raised this with the Sultan and Bruneian ministers during his visit to Brunei Darussalam in August 2018.

Commonwealth Heads of Government most recently met in the UK in April 2018. His Majesty The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam was present. A communique issued by the leaders included the most progressive language yet on LGBT rights, complimented by an historic speech from the Prime Minister. The UK strongly supports and defends the rights of the LGBT+ community globally. The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and all its forms. The UK upholds international human rights laws relating to torture, or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

The UK does not import hydrocarbons from Brunei. We believe that open and honest discussions, rather than boycotts, is the best way to encourage Brunei to uphold their international human rights obligations and to respect individual freedoms.

Q
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Detainees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 March (HL14232), which specific media sources were used to inform the response; and whether they agree with the conclusions and views expressed elsewhere in those articles.
A
Answered on: 04 April 2019

This figure was obtained from the ‘Statement by the Royal Court: Anti Corruption Committee Concludes Its Tasks’ released by the Saudi Press Agency, which is available on their website.

We maintain investigations must be fairly conducted and comply with international standards.

Q
Asked on: 14 March 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Community Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what initiatives they plan to implement to unite communities across the UK post-Brexit.
Answered on: 26 March 2019

In March 2018, the government published the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper which set out our ambitious goal to build strong integrated communities where people - whatever their background - live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities. This is especially important as we leave the European Union and seize the opportunity to create the kind of country we want to be: a global, outward-looking, connected nation. On 9 February 2019, we published the Integrated Communities Action Plan alongside the government’s response to the consultation on the Green Paper. The Action Plan builds upon the proposals set out in the Green Paper and commits the government to deliver over 70 policy actions by the end of this Parliament.

Q
Asked on: 07 March 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
EU Grants and Loans: Cornwall
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plan they have to replace the EU Objective 1 funding programme, with particular regard to Cornwall.
Answered on: 21 March 2019

The Government continues to develop the design and priorities of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The new Fund will seek to improve productivity and reduce economic inequalities. We will consult widely on the fund and the Government encourages all interested parties to take part in this process.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Detainees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of detainees that remain in detention as part of the government of Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption drive; where those detainees are being held; and what assessment they have made of whether an appropriate judicial process is being followed.
A
Answered on: 18 March 2019

We understand from media reports at least 56 people remain under investigation. We maintain investigations must be fairly conducted and comply with international standards.

Q
Asked on: 20 February 2019
Home Office
British Nationality
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have a policy in place for whether any nation takes precedence over another when determining when someone with dual nationality is to be deprived of citizenship.
Answered on: 06 March 2019

There is no policy for prioritising nationality when deciding whether to deprive an individual with dual nationality of their British citizenship.

When making a decision to deprive an individual of British citizenship, the law requires that such a decision may not be made if it would make the individual stateless. This is compatible with the UK’s international obligations under the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The Government cannot comment on the use of deprivation by other countries.

Grouped Questions: HL13945
Q
Asked on: 20 February 2019
Home Office
British Nationality
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is ever their policy to make an individual stateless by depriving them of their citizenship; what assessment they have made of the impact on an individual with dual nationality of being deprived of their citizenship of both countries; whether they provide guidance to officials for such a scenario; and if so, what is that guidance.
Answered on: 06 March 2019

There is no policy for prioritising nationality when deciding whether to deprive an individual with dual nationality of their British citizenship.

When making a decision to deprive an individual of British citizenship, the law requires that such a decision may not be made if it would make the individual stateless. This is compatible with the UK’s international obligations under the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The Government cannot comment on the use of deprivation by other countries.

Grouped Questions: HL13944
Q
Asked on: 12 February 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Regeneration: Cornwall
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support the regeneration of the economy of Cornwall; and whether they will list the specific projects they will undertake for that purpose.
Answered on: 26 February 2019

The Government’s ambitious, modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

We are working with areas across the UK who are developing Local Industrial Strategies, including Cornwall, and we hope to deliver these everywhere by 2020. These strategies will be developed locally through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and agreed with the Government.

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been allocated £78.23 million as part of their growth deal to support economic growth in the area.

There are also two Enterprise Zones in Cornwall. Aerohub+, a split site covering Newquay airport and Goonhilly Earth Station with a focus on Aerospace and Space, and Marine Hub which has a focus on marine technology. They are both progressing well and the site at Newquay airport has attracted several companies including CIS UK Ltd and Apple Aviation.

Q
Asked on: 11 February 2019
Home Office
Proceeds of Crime
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government under which circumstances, if any, they intervene to block requests for assets to be remitted to foreign government organisations either from the UK or British overseas territories.
Answered on: 25 February 2019

Under proceeds of crime legislation, asset sharing and repatriation is ultimately the Government’s decision following the recovery of assets/money under a court order it is a matter of how to then dispose of those recovered moneys. In confiscation cases, the UN Convention Against Corruption requires a full return to victim States and the EU Framework Decision on confiscation orders requires a 50% share in cases in excess of 10,000 Euros.

There are other bilateral and multilateral international agreements that encourage the sharing of recovered assets. The UK does not require an international agreement to share or repatriate assets and does so on request on an ad hoc basis. The presumption is that 50% is shared with the requesting country. There are few cases so far, but none have been refused.


The Government does not intervene with similar cases involving the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies.

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