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 by Lord Judd
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Conflict Resolution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to review and strengthen the effectiveness of conflict resolution policies of the UK to address persistent and accelerating conflict, and flashpoints, particularly in (1) Benin, (2) Burkina Faso, (3) Cameroon, (4) Central African Republic, (5) Chad, (6) Democratic Republic of the Congo, (7) Mali, (8) Nigeria, (9) Togo, (10) Somalia, and (11) Sudan; and what steps they are taking with partners in the Commonwealth, the EU, and the UN to review equivalent policies.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

As outlined in our answer to HL16250, the British Government is taking a number of actions to prevent conflict. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we are:

  • Using funding from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) which has led, for example, to the roll out of new peacekeeping-intelligence architecture in the three missions with the highest number of casualties - Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic. Our sizeable funding contribution to the UN is used as leverage to advocate for UN reform and improve the way it operates.

  • Promoting peace and security in Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali through diplomacy and targeted support. We support UN and French security efforts through direct contributions to MINUSMA in Northern Mali and the deployment of three RAF Chinook helicopters to France’s Counter-Terrorism Operation Barkhane. We work closely with the G5 and other partners to provide life-saving assistance and protection to people on the frontline of conflict. The UK is also focusing on developing programmes to tackle the long-term drivers of instability and poverty.

  • Urging all parties in Benin to engage in dialogue to overcome their differences and find a peaceful solution. We share the concerns of the EU, France, the US and the UN about acts of violence in Benin following the 28 April legislative elections.

  • Regularly addressing the situation in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions of Cameroon with international partners including the UN, EU, Commonwealth and African Union to encourage and support efforts to resolve the crisis. The UK remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the Anglophone regions and the impact it is having on the lives of ordinary civilians. We have shared experiences with the Government of Cameroon (GoC) on conflict resolution; and remain ready to provide further support. We raised our concerns during briefings at the UN Security Council on 4 and 12 June, and led on a statement with Austria at the UN Human Rights Council in March, which was supported by 39 countries, calling on the GoC to establish a credible political dialogue to address root causes of the conflict.

  • Providing the Central African Republic (CAR) with significant humanitarian spend (£63m since 2013) and core contributions to key multilateral organisations on the ground, such as the World Bank and the EU. Support to UN peacekeeping efforts include assessed contributions (£40.5m per annum to MINUSCA peacekeeping mission and €2m to the EU Training Mission).

  • Pressing our long-term approach to stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including through significant contributions to the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). We are supporting security reforms, stabilisation and peace building initiatives through DFID programmes and the CSSF.

  • Providing training to Nigeria’s armed forces combat insurgent groups, support communities to better respond and manage the effects of violent conflict, and to support the reintegration of former members of Boko Haram. We are also working closely with the EU, US and UN to provide technical support to the Nigerian Government to address the underlying causes of intercommunal violence affecting many parts of Nigeria, including the recently announced National Livestock Transformation Plan, which aims to mitigate escalating violence between pastoralists and farmers. We are currently reviewing how we might further assist the Nigerian Government in their efforts to tackle conflict in the northeast of the country.

  • Building on the work of the UK-hosted London Conference on Somalia in 2017, which brought together Somalia’s key partners, including the UN, EU and a number of members of the Commonwealth. This established a set of agreements that provide the foundation for a more coherent international approach to Somalia with conflict resolution at its core. We are careful to ensure that all UK policies and programmes in Somalia maintain a focus on conflict sensitivity, and regularly undertake conflict analysis to support this. In particular, our work includes activity under the CSSF to address the drivers of conflict and build capacity at both local and regional levels.

  • Supporting community-based peacebuilding programmes, in concert with the UN and other international partners, namely the African Union, in areas of instability and conflict in Sudan. The UK has a long standing role in supporting sustainable peace in Sudan. As a member of the Troika and bilaterally, we have supported progress in the Peace Process seeking to find a solution to the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas. In addition the UK plays a leading role in the UN Security Council, particularly as the penholder on the mandate for UNAMID – the African Union hybrid Mission in Darfur.

  • The Minister for Africa met with Togolese President Gnassingbé and reiterated the importance of delivering 2020 Presidential elections on time and a return to inclusive politics. The UK continues to encourage all parties to avoid violence and respect the human rights of all Togolese people. The UK supports the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) brokered roadmap, along with the EU, which has seen Togo recently adopt two-term limits on presidential terms, in line with other ECOWAS states. The change however does not apply retrospectively and has been rejected by the opposition.

Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 11 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Conflict Resolution
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to review and strengthen the effectiveness of conflict resolution policies of the UK to address persistent and accelerating conflict, and flashpoints, particularly in (1) Myanmar, (2) Sri Lanka, and (3) Southern Philippines; and what steps they are taking with partners in the Commonwealth, the EU, and the UN to review equivalent policies.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The UK Government’s actions in respect of addressing conflict and unrest in the regions listed include:

  • Maintaining our provision of practical support to the Myanmar Peace Process, delivered through the multi-donor Joint Peace Fund (JPF), as well as technical advice and expertise. The UK is an active member of the JPF Governance Board which includes 11 other donors including the EU, Australia and Canada. We have played a pivotal role in maintaining high level UN attention to the ongoing conflict in Myanmar.

  • Playing a leading role, together with Core Group members Canada, Germany, Macedonia and Montenegro, in achieving a new Resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March. This continues Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and accountability commitments following the end of the civil war. We firmly believe that this is the best framework for establishing truth and achieving justice and lasting reconciliation. We will continue to refine our approach towards addressing conflict in Sri Lanka, working closely with local stakeholders and international partners including those in the Commonwealth, EU and UN.

  • We are spending £8.3m of Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) funding on interfaith dialogue, reconciliation, police reform and training, and demining in Sri Lanka. The CSSF is a cross government fund, which supports and delivers activity to tackle instability and to prevent conflicts which threaten UK interests. We regularly review and adapt our CSSF programmes to ensure they effectively contribute to post-conflict reconciliation.

  • As a founding member of the International Contact Group, a hybrid mediation support initiative supporting the peace process in Southern Philippines, the UK took active interest in the January 2019 plebiscite, which paves the way for an autonomous region for Muslim Mindanao. UK development assistance to the reconstruction in Mindanao is through multilateral partners such as the World Bank and Asia Development Bank.

Q
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department for Transport
Midland Main Railway Line: Electrification
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and considering the decreasing costs of electrification, whether they will reconsider their decision to not electrify the Midland Main Line to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield before they confirm any orders for hybrid trains.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

There are currently no plans to further extend electrification on the Midland Main Line (MML), beyond those works planned by the MML enhancements programme and HS2 Phase 2b.

The Government is committed to a greener, cleaner transport system, and recognises the important role this will play in reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. That’s why we are modernising the UK rail fleet to introduce more electric, bi-mode (electric and diesel hybrid) and alternative-fuel trains to the network. The new bi-mode intercity trains for the Midland Main Line will have less environmental impact than the current trains, some of which are over 30 years old. Our ambition is that these will be the cleanest ever bi-mode trains.

Abellio, who have recently been awarded the new East Midlands Railway franchise will be at the forefront of delivering a cleaner, greener rail network. They are seeking innovative ways to keep emissions to a minimum when running under diesel power, and will trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line and run zero-carbon pilots at six stations along the route.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Food Standards Agency: Public Appointments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to approve the appointment of a Chief Executive for the Food Standards Agency; and what has been the cause of the delay.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The appointment is subject to the approval process which governs the Civil Service Commission Recruitment Principles. An announcement will be made once that process has concluded.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Climate Change
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 17 April (HL15077), why they do not have any plans to increase global cooperation and governance of research on, and the use of, solar radiation management technologies; and what assessment, if any, they have made of the risk of that lack of plans leading to unilateral deployment without international consent
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The priority of the UK Government is to tackle the root cause of climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities and adapting to those impacts that are unavoidable. We are aware of independent existing efforts to increase cooperation and governance of research into solar radiation management technologies, such as the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative and the ‘Oxford Principles’ for the governance of geoengineering. We have not formally assessed the risk that lack of plans may lead to unilateral deployment without international consent.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electric Vehicles: Batteries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 20 May (HL15733), what activity they are undertaking to explore second life applications for electric vehicle batteries which are no longer able to perform as required; what proportion of electric vehicle batteries would be diverted to secondary use; and what discussions they have had with industry and researchers on that topic.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Government has directly supported energy storage through research and innovation funding. This support includes current funding from BEIS for an energy storage cost reduction project, led by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, which is looking at reducing the cost of stationary energy storage by developing cost effective, large-scale processes for grading and sorting 2nd life Electric Vehicle batteries. This project is due to be completed by end March 2021.

There are several projects being funded as part of the Collaborative Research & Development (CR&D) activity of the Faraday Battery Challenge working on the development of the technical aspects of remanufacture and understanding the economic viability of using electric vehicle batteries for second life applications. These range in focus from diagnostic techniques to establish the suitability of batteries for a second life application and inform warranties for the second life devices, to developing effective methods of remanufacture which includes optimising the initial battery design for remanufacture. Second life applications are also a topic of research in the Faraday Institution (FI) supported Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries (ReLIB) project, with a cohort group established from the participants of the Collaborative Research & Development (CR&D) and FI recycling and second life projects to share learning in this area. The business cases for the types of electric vehicle batteries which are suitable both physically and from an economic perspective for second life applications are under development across the industry. These applications are dependent, among other factors, on the rapidly changing cost of new batteries and the value and efficiency of recovering the materials compared to the cost of remanufacture. Discussions are active with industry and researchers on this topic, both as part of the recycling and reuse cohort as well as conversations with companies and organisations across the UK, covering topics such as data handling and sharing to enable assessment of battery health at the end of EV life. The UK is also actively engaged in the World Economic Forum Global Battery Alliance and European Battery Alliance working groups in recycling and reuse.

These innovation projects exploring second life battery use will help to provide information on the proportion of electric vehicle batteries which could be cost-effectively diverted to secondary use.

Q
Asked by Lord Pendry
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Social Rented Housing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the merits of ending the practice of converting homes for social rent into “affordable” rented housing, in order to tackle (1) affordability issues in the housing market, and (2) homelessness.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

A mix of different tenures is vital to meet the needs of a wide range of people, and allow the sector to build the right homes in the right places. Alongside affordable home ownership to help those struggling to purchase their first home, our expanded programme now offers two rental products. Affordable Rent was introduced to maximise taxpayers’ money. It allows us to build more homes for every pound of Government investment - so more people in housing need can have access to a good quality home at a sub-market rent. Social rent will meet the needs of struggling families and those most at risk of homelessness in areas of the country where affordability is most pressured.

Asked on: 12 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Rockall: Sovereignty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from the government of the Republic of Ireland about the ownership of Rockall and its 12-mile territorial sea.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

​There have been no representations from the Irish Government about the ownership of Rockall. Both the Irish Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have said that Ireland has no claim to Rockall and does not recognise any other sovereign claim to it.

Asked on: 13 June 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Obesity: Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that Clinical Commissioning Groups have access to clear, comprehensive and coherent child obesity treatment services which extend from simple local community interventions through to more specialist treatments.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Government will provide the National Health Service with an extra £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24 to help support the NHS Long Term Plan and ensure clinical commissioning groups can commission child obesity treatment services across the country.

The Long Term Plan sets out a number of actions to reduce obesity including investment in tier 3 weight management services for children and adults and plans are in development for its expansion. This will result in, for example, a further 1,000 children a year being treated by 2022/23 for severe complications related to obesity.

The Long Term Plan also commits to work with the professional bodies and universities to ensure nutrition has a greater place in professional education training, making sure staff on the frontline who are in contact with thousands of patients a year feel equipped to talk to them about nutrition and achieving a healthy weight in an informed and sensitive way.

Q
Asked by Earl Cathcart
Asked on: 13 June 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Business Premises: Solar Power
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for requiring all new industrial and commercial buildings to include extensive solar panel coverage on their roofs.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Building Regulations energy performance standards are deliberately couched in performance terms and do not prescribe the technologies, materials or fuels to be used, allowing builders the flexibility to innovate and select the most appropriate solutions for the circumstances. For example, many roofs are not suitable for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels because of building orientation, roof design, or over shading. We do, however, plan to consult on uplifting the energy efficiency standards of the building regulations in the coming months, including those for new non-domestic buildings.

Asked on: 13 June 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
UK Shared Prosperity Fund
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to issue guidance for local areas to give clarity on the details of the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The government recognises the importance of reassuring local areas on the future of local growth funding and providing clarity on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Therefore, we will consult widely on the Fund.

Decisions on the allocation and quantum of the Fund are due to be made following the Spending Review.

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.

Asked on: 13 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Chemical Weapons
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 4 June (HL15867), what plans they have to reassess their initial assessment of who was responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Duoma when the further investigations by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team are completed.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

​I refer the Noble Lord to the answer of 4 June 2019 (PQ HL15867) given by the Minister of State for Defence. Our assessment remains as stated in my Noble Friend's answer.

Q
Asked by Ben Bradley
(Mansfield)
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Businesses: East Midlands
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps the Government has taken to boost the productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises in the East Midlands.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 26 June 2019

Small and medium sized enterprises in the East Midlands can access business advice through their local Growth Hubs. Led and governed by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), Growth Hubs provide a free, impartial, ‘single point of contact’ to help businesses in the area identify and access the right support for them at the right time no matter their size or sector. The LEPs which cover the East Midlands have self-reported that in FY2017-2018 their Growth Hubs supported over 12,000 businesses and helped over 300 individuals start a business

Since its creation in 2012, the Government-backed Start Up Loans company has made 3,573 loans worth over £25.5m to the East Midlands region. In the Mansfield constituency, 66 loans have been made worth £503,200[1].

April 2019’s increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) means that 157,000 workers in the East Midlands have received an inflation-beating pay rise of 4.9%. The latest estimates suggest that 5,000 workers in Mansfield are receiving the NLW and National Minimum Wage.

The Industrial Strategy is creating an economy that works for everyone; setting out a long-term plan to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the United Kingdom. Nationally, the Government is providing up to £18.6 million to Be the Business to increase firm level productivity by supporting SMEs to make simple changes and learn from each other.

And the £9 million Business Basics Programme is testing innovative ways of encouraging SMEs to take-up proven technology and business practices that can boost productivity. A total of £2 million has been allocated to projects from the first round of the Business Basics Fund and we are expecting to allocate a further £2 million of funding in Autumn 2019.

[1] At May 2019

Q
Asked by Lord Birt
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Natural Gas: Storage
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 20 February (HL13575), what percentage of the maximum theoretical gas storage is utilised on average for the last full year for which data are available.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 26 June 2019

In 2018, the last full year for which data are available, UK gas storage had on average 62% utilisation, measured as an average of how full storage facilities were on a daily basis.

Asked on: 17 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Jamal Khashoggi
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to recent reports that the government of the USA has called on Saudi Arabia to show tangible progress in their investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, what new information they have on the investigation; and when they last received a progress report.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The UK attends the trial on the death of Jamal Khashoggi as part of a group of international observers. We attend all trials of international concern where host governments permit us to do so. It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the ongoing legal process.

Q
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gaza: Fisheries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about that country's control over the use of the coastal waters off Gaza by fishermen living there.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

​We regularly raise with the Government of Israel the urgent need to ease all access and movement restrictions on Gaza, including fishing limits.

Q
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
West Bank: Demolition
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the demolition by the government of Israel of Palestinian facilities, including commercial shops, in the Qalandia refugee camp.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

​Whilst we have not made any assessment on this issue, we are gravely concerned by continued demolition of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities.

Q
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
West Bank: Demolition
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they plan to make to the government of Israel about reports of the destruction of 530 Palestinian-owned olive trees and four water wells by the Israel Defense Forces east of Tammun town while legal efforts are ongoing to prevent the area being turned into a nature reserve.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

​While we have not made any representations on this specific incident, we are gravely concerned by continued demolition of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities. We are aware of the difficulties facing Palestinian olive growers. We have expressed our serious concerns to the Israeli Government and security officials about the destruction of olive trees on a number of occasions.

Q
Asked on: 17 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Palestinians: Electric Cables
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about reports that that country has prohibited the setting up of high-voltage power lines in the Berin area to supply Palestinian residents with electricity.
A
Answered on: 26 June 2019

​While we have not made any representations on this specific matter, we recognise the need for improvements in infrastructure, employment, energy and water supply to improve living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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