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 2019-21 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: 21 July 2020
Department for Transport
Travel: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a UK resident must quarantine when arriving into the UK from Portugal yet departing back to that country on the same day.
A
Answered on: 04 August 2020

Coronavirus regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 14 days if you arrive in the UK from a country outside the common travel area.

Though the Government is satisfied that it is now safe to ease these measures in England and has introduced travel corridor exemptions for some countries and territories, Portugal is not presently part of the travel corridor exemptions. Therefore, people must self-isolate for 14 days when arriving into the UK from Portugal. However, if they wish to leave the UK within the 14-day period then they are able to do so.

Q
Asked on: 21 July 2020
Cabinet Office
Subversion: Russia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Russia, published on 21 July, what assessment they made of the open source studies which found evidence to suggest that Russia was attempting to influence the outcome of the EU referendum and which “pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’”.
A
Answered by: Lord True
Answered on: 03 August 2020

We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum. The Government has published its response to the Intelligence and Security Committee report.

Grouped Questions: HL7123
Q
Asked on: 21 July 2020
Cabinet Office
Subversion: Russia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Russia, published on 21 July, what assessment they have made of why Russia may have attempted to influence the outcome of the EU referendum.
A
Answered by: Lord True
Answered on: 03 August 2020

We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum. The Government has published its response to the Intelligence and Security Committee report.

Grouped Questions: HL7122
Q
Asked on: 21 July 2020
Cabinet Office
Subversion: Russia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons why the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Russia, sent to the Prime Minister on 17 October 2019, was not published until 21 July.
A
Answered by: Lord True
Answered on: 03 August 2020

As the Government has set out previously, the report is the property of the independent committee. It is for the Intelligence and Security Committee to lay their reports before Parliament and the reconstituted Committee did so on 21 July.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cybercrime
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of cyber attacks by foreign governments against (1) the UK, and (2) its allies.
A
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Malicious actors, both State and non-State, are conducting activity that is detrimental to UK interests and those of our allies, whether directly targeted at us or not. Cyber attacks have grown in intensity, complexity and severity in recent years as these actors are becoming bolder and take more risks for economic, strategic, regional or financial gains. The UK Government has demonstrated that it will defend against, counter and identify those who seek to do us harm. The UK works with its international partners and in multilateral fora to call out those who are responsible for malicious and disruptive cyberattacks. Working closely with foreign agency and industry partners, Government agencies identify and mitigate vulnerabilities and manage and resolve incidents if they occur. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Centre for the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure (CPNI) routinely assess the threat from a range of actors to our most critical sectors.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cybercrime: China
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impacts of any cyber attacks by the government of China which they consider hostile to trade economy, national security, and critical infrastructure; and what communication strategy they have planned for all stakeholders who would be affected, including the public.
A
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Malicious cyber activity is increasing in sophistication across international boundaries. Both state-sponsored and criminal cyber actors are carrying out hostile operations against governments, critical and national services, financial institutions, businesses and individuals around the world. Government departments work closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Centre for the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure (CPNI) to help industries, organisations and individuals protect themselves, their businesses and our critical national infrastructure. Campaigns like 'industry100', Cyber Essentials and Cyber Aware produce guidance and support that sets out protective measures that can be taken against a range of threats and actors, including espionage and cyber attacks.

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Military Aid: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with reservist employers about mobilising (1) the Army Reserve, and (2) the Regular Reserves, in the event of any second wave of COVID-19.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 30 July 2020

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) maintains regular contact with reservist employers (including the Army Reserve) through routine engagement activities. Should there be a requirement to mobilise more reservists for future tasks related to COVID-19, the MOD will engage with employers through the usual, well established channels.

So far, there has been a very positive response from employers to the call-out of reservists as part of the national response to COVID-19. Details of call-out procedures, including the responsibilities of employers and reservists, and the financial compensation packages available, are set out on-line on www.gov.uk.

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Military Aid: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for mobilising (1) the Army Reserve, and (2) the Regular Reserves, in the event of any second wave of COVID-19.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 30 July 2020

As part of our normal contingency planning arrangements, the Ministry of Defence is currently scoping its potential input into the response to any potential second wave of COVID-19. A reserve call-out order is already in place for the use of Reserve forces in the response to COVID-19, which could be used to mobilise Army Reserve and Regular Reserves should a second wave occur. Defence seeks to mobilise intelligently, making the most of the expertise available through its Reserve forces, whilst giving them and their employers flexibility.

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Military Aid: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans are in place to mobilise (1) the Army Reserve, and (2) the Regular Reserves, to deal with any (a) second wave of COVID-19, and (b) any unrest following the end of the Brexit transition period.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Reservists undertake a variety of roles within Defence and provide a valuable contribution when called upon. As part of the national response to the Coronavirus pandemic circa 2,300 reservists (circa 1,850 of which were Army reservists) have been mobilised for Covid-19 related activities this year. The authority to mobilise reservists in Covid-19 roles is active until March 2021. This enables reservists mobilised prior to March 2021, under the Covid-19 Reserves Call Out Order to contribute to any Defence response to a potential second wave of Covid-19 if there is a need to do so.

The maintenance of public order is the responsibility of the police. There are no plans to utilise Armed Forces personnel, including reservists, to deal with any unrest following the end of the transition period. Defence remains closely engaged on contingency planning related to the end of the EU Transition Period and remains available to support the civil authorities if necessary.

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Defence: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 related deployments on the fulfilment of their standing defence commitments.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 30 July 2020

Throughout the pandemic, the Department has prioritised the delivery of critical Defence outputs, including standing commitments. The Department assesses that there has been no significant impact caused by its support to COVID-19 activity.

Q
Asked on: 17 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Russia: Navy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the security of the Baltic and North Sea following recent reports that the Russian navy will commission 40 new vessels in 2020.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 29 July 2020

The Ministry of Defence monitors the development of all new Russian vessels commissioned and makes assessments based on their operational capability. We continue to assess the impact of Russian naval investments to regional security, including the Baltic and North Seas. Russia continues to be a significant state-based threat to the UK; monitoring and responding to this threat is a core priority for the Ministry of Defence.

Q
Asked on: 23 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Military Aid: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether military personnel are still assisting with COVID-19 testing; and if not, why not.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 29 July 2020

As of Monday 27 July 2020, there are 96 Military Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) crews operational to assist with Covid-19 testing. This is inclusive of 22 Strategic Reserve crews. The Armed Forces have begun the process of handing over the operation of MTUs to civilian contractors for ongoing testing in line with Military Aid to the Civil Authorities principles regarding commercial solutions.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the difference between a hostile act and an act of war; and what types of action would fall under each definition.
A
Answered on: 28 July 2020

Since the adoption of the UN Charter international law is not framed in terms of "act of war", but rather in terms of "use of force". Article 2(4) of the Charter prohibits the threat or use of force that threatens the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. However the Charter also recognises that a state has a right to use force to defend itself against an armed attack or imminent armed attack. Actions that fall short of an armed attack could still constitute an unlawful intervention in the domestic affairs of the UK, prohibited by both Article 2(7) of the UN Charter and customary international law. Any assessment would need to be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the facts.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Libya: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of any increase of political instability in Libya; and whether they expect mass movement of refugees into southern Europe as a result of any such instability.
A
Answered on: 28 July 2020

We remain deeply concerned by the situation in Libya and the risks to wider regional stability. The UK is actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict. We continue to call on all parties to de-escalate, commit to a lasting ceasefire and return to UN-led political talks. Most recently, at the 8 July UN Security Council meeting, the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa reiterated that external backers must stop sending arms to Libya, adhere to the Berlin Conference commitments made in January, and support the parties to achieve a ceasefire and reach an inclusive political solution. We welcome the engagement of the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army in the UN led 5+5 military talks. It is essential that both sides engage fully with this process.

The UK calls on all parties to the conflict to engage with the UN and the humanitarian community. This is essential to allow for civilians, including refugees and migrants and the wounded, to be evacuated to safety and for aid to reach those in need. As part of our current £75 million migration programme along the Central Mediterranean Route, we have allocated over £7 million to humanitarian assistance and protection for migrants and refugees in Libya, including targeted healthcare provision. The ongoing confrontation continues to exacerbate human migration and the UK is clear that the situation can be best improved under the stability of a united and representative government, facilitated by the UN-led process. That is why we continue to actively support the UN-led political process and an inclusive political settlement for Libya.

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Cybercrime and Defence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what basis they decided to allocate responsibility for parliamentary questions relating to cyber and national defence to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; and what assessment they have made of the response of foreign governments to the UK’s inclusion of such matters in a ministerial portfolio also including sport.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 28 July 2020

DCMS is responsible for cyber security policy and works closely with other government departments responsible for delivery of the government’s National Cyber Security Strategy as well as the National Cyber Security Centre. The objectives of the National Cyber Security Strategy are divided between 5 departments. DCMS is responsible for cyber security policy, as it relates to securing the economy and society against attacks, building skills, expanding the sector, supporting innovation, science and technology. The Cabinet Office has overall responsibility for delivery of the National Cyber Security Strategy, sits on the National Security Council and is responsible for the security of government systems. The Home Office leads on cyber crime and incident response while the Ministry of Defence has overall responsibility for operational cyber capabilities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has statutory responsibility for GCHQ and, thus, for the National Cyber Security Centre - the UK’s national technical authority for cyber security. Parliamentary questions are allocated to across departments on basis of this shared responsibility.

Internationally it is not unusual for foreign governments to divide responsibility for cyber security between departments responsible for the economy, security, defence and policing. DCMS has regular productive dialogues with many countries to advance UK interests and to share information and best practice. The inclusion of cyber in DCMS’ portfolios has never been raised as an issue for international partners.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
Russia: Submarines
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment has been made of recent Russian submarine deployment into the Mediterranean and Baltic seas.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 27 July 2020

The Ministry of Defence monitors the deployments of Russian submarines and makes assessments based on their operational capability. A nuclear-powered submarine transited from its Northern Fleet base to St Petersburg where it will take part in Russia's Navy Day on 26th July, as part of a predicted annual commitment. A further Russian submarine transited from its Black Sea base port to Tartus, Syria, as part of their routine presence operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Russia continues to be a significant state-based threat to the UK; monitoring and responding to this threat is a core priority for the Ministry of Defence.

Q
Asked on: 17 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Mobile Broadband
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 13 July (HL6593), whether they will publish their assessment that £200 million will be sufficient to fund a 5G Testbeds and Trials programme; what was the cost of the equivalent programme for 4G; whether they have assessed how much an equivalent programme for 6G will cost; and if so, whether they publish that assessment.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 24 July 2020

While 6G mobile technology is only in the early research phase, the Government is committed to ensuring the UK is at the forefront of technology development and adoption. The Government’s current focus is on the UK becoming a world leader in 5G mobile technology. To support this ambition the Government is investing £200 million in a programme of nationally coordinated testbeds and trials, the first programme of its kind in the UK, which launched in late 2017 and will run until the end of March 2022

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has conducted economic and commercial analysis to ensure the scale of funding is proportionate to that of overall nationwide 5G deployment and provides value-for-money for UK taxpayers.

Q
Asked on: 15 July 2020
Ministry of Defence
HMS Queen Elizabeth: South China Sea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to send the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to the South China Sea; and if so, (1) when the decision was made, and (2) what will be the objective.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 23 July 2020

No decision has yet been made. Cross Government consultation is in progress and we expect to finalise the details of the deployment soon. The UK has enduring interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and the Royal Navy has maintained a near persistent presence there for a number of years, conducting numerous activities promoting security and defence relationships with our partners and upholding the Rules Based International System. Building on this, the Royal Navy intends to continue to operate across the region, including in the South China Sea.

Q
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
EU Countries: British Nationals Abroad
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 6 July (HL6037), to list the countries in the EU which (1) do, or (2) do not, adequately protect the interests of UK citizens resident in those countries.
A
Answered on: 20 July 2020

The Withdrawal Agreement protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU who are lawfully resident by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. It ensures they can continue to live, work, study and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, broadly as they do now. As is the case with other parts of EU law, the Withdrawal Agreement has direct effect in the EU and is binding on all Member States. These protections have supremacy over any national legislation in Member States that could be inconsistent with the Withdrawal Agreement now or in the future. We do not assess, at this time, that any Member States are not adequately protecting citizens' rights but we are closely monitoring the situation across the EU and we are providing the latest advice to UK nationals resident there via our Living in Guides on GOV.UK.

Furthermore, the Government wrote to the European Commission on 14 May to set out our view on where progress on implementation could improve. The European Commission responded on 28 May, agreeing to work to address them in advance of the Part Two provisions coming into effect at the end of the transition period. The Government is working closely with all Member States on correct and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, via our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates. The Specialised Committee on Citizens' Rights has also started its work to oversee the implementation and application of Part Two. Any breaches that we become aware of, leading to a loss of rights for UK nationals, during the transition period or in the future, will be raised at this Committee and escalated to the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee if required.

Q
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department for Transport
Aviation: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what basis they decided to exclude Portugal as an ‘air bridge’ country necessitating passengers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the UK from that country.
A
Answered on: 20 July 2020

Decisions on the list of countries that are exempt from self-isolation requirements have been guided by the science.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre, in close consultation with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer, has developed an approach to assessing the public health risk associated with inbound travel from specific countries and territories. This categorisation has informed the government’s decisions about relaxation of border measures.

The categorisation has been informed by an estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious in each country, virus incidence rates, trends in incidence and deaths, transmission status and international epidemic intelligence as well as information on a country’s testing capacity and an assessment of the quality of the data available.

The government will keep the requirements and exemptions set out in the regulations under review.

Q
Asked on: 07 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Huawei: Security
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance, if any, they provide to members of the public about the security of Huawei products.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 20 July 2020

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) provides a range of guidance to the public on how to secure their devices and accounts when using online services: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/section/information-for/individuals-families.

They generally do not produce guidance for members of the public on how to secure specific devices, but encourage that they read the information provided by the manufacturer.

In May 2019, in light of US sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC published advice for Huawei customers detailing the potential impact on customers in the UK. The NCSC updates its advice when necessary.

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Disease Control
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the timely identification of lessons to be learnt from their approach to the COVID-19 pandemic which do not assign blame would help in better addressing a possible second wave of COVID-19.
Q
Asked on: 07 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Mobile Broadband
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for withdrawing support for 5G telecoms networks in favour of further research into 6G technology.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 13 July 2020

6G mobile technology is in the early research phase. The Government’s focus is on the UK becoming a world leader in 5G mobile technology, and for the majority of the UK population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027. To support this ambition, the Government is investing £200 million in a 5G Testbeds and Trials programme. The Mobile Network Operators are similarly focussed on rolling out commercial 5G coverage across the UK and, as a result, it is currently available in over 80 UK towns and cities.

Q
Asked on: 22 June 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Nationals Abroad
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of which countries in the EU (1) do, or (2) do not, adequately protect the interests of UK citizens resident in those countries.
A
Answered on: 06 July 2020

The Government and the European Union have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement, which provides citizens with the certainty they need about their rights going forwards.

During the time-limited transition period, until 31 December 2020, UK nationals are able to live, work and travel in the EU broadly as they do now - and vice versa for EU citizens coming to the UK. After the transition period, UK nationals who are lawfully residing in a Member State will be able to stay - and vice versa for EU citizens lawfully residing in the UK. Member States can choose whether to require UK nationals who are lawfully resident by the end of the transition period to apply for a residence status to confer their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Member States may allow applications for residence to be made voluntarily during the transition period. However, any decisions made during this time has no effect until after the end of the transition period. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, any new residency systems that are put in place must be open until at least 30 June 2021, subject to extension in certain circumstances.

The Government is working closely with Member States on their implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement during the transition period via our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates. We are also providing the latest advice to UK nationals in the EU via our Living in Guides on gov.uk. The Specialised Committee on Citizens' Rights oversees the implementation and application of Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement. Any breaches that we are aware of leading to a loss of rights for UK nationals, during the transition period or in the future, will be raised through this forum and escalated to the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee if required.

Q
Asked on: 25 March 2020
Department for Transport
Aviation: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that (1) during, and (2) after, the grounding of any aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic all (a) UK registered commercial aircraft comply with air worthiness certification, and (b) commercial aircraft registered outside the UK comply with valid air worthiness certification to enable entering UK air space.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2020

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is working with UK airlines to understand their plans for the storage of aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines have provided to the CAA their plans to maintain aircraft whilst in storage to ensure compliance with the regulations on continuing airworthiness. The CAA will check UK airlines continue to comply with these regulations as the aircraft return to service. The CAA will also continue to audit aircraft registered in other states to check that they are in compliance with the international standards contained in the Chicago Convention through the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) programme.

Q
Asked on: 25 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hygiene: Products
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 18 March (HL2249), what assessment they have made of the impact of HMRC rates and allowances on the ability of producers of hygiene gel to produce such gel; and what plans they have, if any, to dispense with those rates and allowances to assist such producers to meet demand.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 07 April 2020

Alcohol used in the production of retail sanitiser gel is not subject to excise duty, providing it is denatured. Producers, suppliers, and users of denatured alcohol must be authorised by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Licensed suppliers of trade-specific denatured alcohol or duty-free spirit that are supplying it for hand sanitiser do not need to restrict the volume supplied. However, they should continue to inspect authorisations and record details of supplies made.

On 23 March 2020, HMRC announced a series of easements designed to increase the amount of denatured alcohol available, as well as the number of businesses authorised to use it in the production of sanitiser gel. These measures will make it easier for manufacturers to meet the sudden increase in demand during the Coronavirus outbreak. Further information on the easements announced to support hand sanitiser production can be found at gov.uk.

Q
Asked on: 25 March 2020
Ministry of Defence
Army Reserve: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the first aid, (2) the trauma and triage, and (3) the security and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defence, capabilities of the Army Reserve; and what plans they have, if any, to deploy the Army Reserve to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Baroness Goldie
Answered on: 06 April 2020

Defence has a number of existing contingency plans in place to provide support to civil authorities, including to the NHS. Our personnel are already providing assistance in a number of capacities and this includes those with specialist medical training. Considering the likely additional call on military assistance to mitigate COVID-19 related staff absences in civil authorities, and the increasing volume of patients requiring treatment by the NHS, Defence is consistently monitoring and enhancing its plans, training and readiness in order to support additional requests.

Q
Asked on: 09 March 2020
Home Office
Visas: Biometrics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of staff working at visa application centres, processing biometric data for applicants for UK visas, they directly employ.
Answered on: 23 March 2020
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) runs different types of visas application centres in the UK and overseas. Over four 4 million visa and immigration applications each year (visit, work, study, family, other)

are processed in these centres.

  • The majority of application centres overseas are run by commercial suppliers (VFS Global and TLS Contact) who employ their

own personnel. In the UK, Sopra Steria Ltd run application service points, again with their own employees. Biometric data of customers is taken by supplier staff.

  • There are several locations in the UK - UKVI Service and Support Centres (SSCs) - in which biometrics are taken and which are staffed by UKVI directly-employed personnel.
Q
Asked on: 09 March 2020
Home Office
Visas: Biometrics
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether staff collecting biometric data from applicants for UK visas are involved in the decision-making process for awarding visas.
Answered on: 23 March 2020

Staff employed by our suppliers who collect biometric data from applicants for UKVI are not involved in the visa decision making. Staff in the SSCs are directly UKVI employed and some are trained decision makers involved in the decision making process.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hygiene: Products
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are shortages of hygiene gel distributed to retail outlets; and if so, what is the reason and what measures are being taken to resolve those shortages.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 18 March 2020

The UK is well prepared for this type of outbreak; we are taking all necessary precautions to protect the public, including engaging with industry and the business community to discuss their preparedness planning.

The Government recognises that there has been increased demand on a number of products, including hygiene gel. These shortages are caused by increased consumer demand, rather than supply chain disruption. Retailers are working with suppliers to increase stock and reassure consumers there is no need to buy higher quantities than usual.

We will work with local authorities to extend the hours that deliveries can be made to supermarkets and other food retailers to help the industry respond to COVID-19. The new measures mean retailers can increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores and move stock more quickly from warehouses across the country to replenish their shelves.

Q
Asked on: 04 March 2020
Department for International Trade
Trade Promotion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish (1) each of Her Majesty's trade commissioners' latest annual reports setting out the strategy, objectives and overarching priorities for each delegated region, and (2) the budgets supporting the delivery of those objectives.
Answered on: 18 March 2020

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners work as an integral part of the Department for International Trade, which produces its annual report and accounts every June or July.

Q
Asked on: 11 February 2020
Department for International Development
Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average percentage of overseas development assistance that they disburse through non-governmental organisations that reaches its intended recipients; what percentage of such funding is spent on administration costs; and what steps they are taking to increase the percentage of such funding that reaches its intended recipients.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 25 February 2020

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are important partners for DFID in ensuring that UKAid reaches intended recipients, particularly the most marginalised groups. Approximately 10% of UKAid in 2018 was channelled directly through NGO partners.

DFID’s approach to programme delivery ensures this funding is well targeted. A Business Case must set out why the programme represents value for money and how this will be measured. Before funds are dispersed, a due diligence assessment is conducted to ensure the NGO partner has the capacity to deliver. Each programme is then monitored throughout its life, with formal annual reviews ensuring that progress and value for money are sustained and that any management fees remain appropriate.

On 1 April this year, DFID published a new approach to cost transparency in NGO grants. A new budget template and guidance will ensure that DFID has full sight of, and is able to scrutinise, all costs being paid to CSO partners through grants and standardises our approach to paying overheads. However, the exact information requested on administration costs is not held centrally and could only be collated at disproportionate cost.

Q
Asked on: 11 February 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government with which foreign leaders, or their representatives, each Department has met since the 2019 General Election.
A
Answered on: 24 February 2020

The information is not readily available/held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost

Q
Asked on: 29 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Indian Ocean Territory: Sovereignty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest policy on the Chagos Islands; and what assessment they have made of the UN General Assembly's resolution 73/295 Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, of 22 May 2019.
A
Answered on: 10 February 2020

We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. We have made a long-standing commitment to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.

We were disappointed this matter was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), contrary to the principle that the Court should not consider bilateral disputes without the consent of both States concerned. The United Kingdom respects the ICJ and participated fully in the advisory proceedings in good faith. However, we do not share the ICJ's approach and have made known our views on the content of the opinion, including its insufficient regard to significant material facts and legal issues. The ICJ's opinion is advisory and not legally binding. Resolution 73/295 does not and cannot create any legal obligations for UN Member States.

Q
Asked on: 14 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Uzbekistan: Official Visits
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to invite the President of Uzbekistan to visit the UK; and if so, what (1) dates, and (2) topics for discussion, are being considered.
A
Answered on: 22 January 2020

​The United Kingdom-Uzbekistan relationship has improved considerably since President Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016. We are actively engaged in supporting his ambitious reform programme and are alive to the opportunities which this presents. There is not currently a date for President Mirziyoyev to visit the United Kingdom, but the signing of a bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in October last year provides the foundation for future cooperation in foreign, political and security matters.

Q
Asked on: 14 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: COE Parliamentary Assembly
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the position of the UK's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in regard to the suspension of the Russian delegation.
A
Answered on: 22 January 2020

The decision to adopt rules changes that saw the return of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in June 2019 was a matter for the Assembly. Russia's membership of the Council of Europe provides access, valued by Russian citizens and human rights Non Governmental Organisations, to the European Court of Human Rights and is one of the few ways available to the international community to hold Russia to account for its human rights violations.

The British Government did not support Russia's unconditional return to PACE. We consistently called on Russia to fulfil all its obligations as a member state, and to adhere to Council of Europe standards on human rights, democracy and rule of law. We will continue our efforts in the Council of Europe to ensure Russia is answerable for its actions. We will also continue to make clear that we do not and will never recognise Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Q
Asked on: 13 January 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Local Government: Business Interests
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Earl of Courtown on 4 November 2019 (HL380), whether they intend to instruct local authorities to maintain a public register of the disclosable pecuniary interests of officers to who delegated authority has been granted by elected members, to ensure that local government officials maintain transparency and compliance with the Nolan Principles.
Answered on: 20 January 2020

It is a matter for each council to put in place whatever arrangements it considers appropriate for the recording and disclosure of officers' interests. Many councils have a code of conduct which covers the handling of officer interests, or details are included in their contracts.

In addition, there is a statutory requirement under section 117 of the Local Government Act 1972 that officers should declare if they have any pecuniary interest in a contract awarded.

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