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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Q
Asked by Luke Hall
(Thornbury and Yate)
Asked on: 11 January 2019
Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
Political Parties: Fines
Commons
To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 7 January 2019 to Question 203928 and the Answer of 8 January 2019 to Question 205307, on Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000: Fines, if the Speaker's Committee will undertake a review of whether it is an appropriate and proportionate enforcement policy practice by the Electoral Commission for a political party to be fined £6,000 for submitting a quarterly reporting one day after the deadline.
A
Answered by: Bridget Phillipson
Answered on: 20 May 2019

It is not the remit of the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, as set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, to scrutinise the Electoral Commission’s enforcement policies.

Parliament made it an offence to deliver, without reasonable excuse, donation reports that are inaccurate or miss the statutory deadline. Parliament gave the Commission investigation and sanction powers for these, and other, offences. Parliament also set out a legal right of appeal for those sanctioned by the Commission, including on the grounds that the amount of the penalty is unreasonable.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the Maltese Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government about the progress of the investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Home Secretary raised the issue with his counterpart last November and it was raised again by our High Commissioner with both the Home Affairs and Justice Ministers in March this year. Most recently, the Foreign Secretary discussed the case with the Maltese Foreign Minister on 13 May.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Maltese Governor’s commitment to (1) bring the murderers of Daphne Caruana Galizia to justice, and (2) uphold its obligations to guarantee and safeguard freedom of expression in Malta as required by the European Convention on Human Rights.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

​The Maltese Government has provided reassurances both in public and private that all efforts are being made to ensure justice will be served in this case. Three suspects have been arrested and will stand trial. The police investigation, supported by Europol, continues to pursue lines of enquiry to identify those behind the murder. On freedom of expression, last year’s Media and Defamation Act, aims to strengthen legal protections for journalists in Malta. The Maltese Government has also expressed early interest in joining the Foreign Secretary’s Media Freedom Conference in July, as a further demonstration of Malta’s resolve to work with international partners to increase the protection of journalists and of freedom of expression.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have raised the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia at the (1) EU Foreign Affairs Council, and (2) Commonwealth Secretariat; and if so, what the outcomes of those discussions were.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

​As there are ongoing police and judicial processes taking place in Malta, the UK Government has not therefore raised the case at the EU Foreign Affairs Council or with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Companies: Insolvency
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent retailers in the water market who sell to SME customers from failing.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

When considering applications from potential retailers, Ofwat, the economic regulator for the water industry, considers whether it would have sufficient financial resources to finance its obligations under the law and to deliver its business plan. Once the retailer enters the market, it is for the retailer to ensure it operates efficiently and is able to continue to operate. In any functioning market some retailers will fail. If a retailer were to fail, as has been seen in other sectors, Ofwat would step in and ensure affected customers are allocated to a new supplier in a seamless way.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Companies: Competition
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment has been made by (1) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and (2) Ofwat of the (a) Scottish SME non-household retail water market, and (b) the English SME non-household retail water market.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (a) undertook some analysis of the Scottish SME non-household retail water market during the initial planning stages of opening up the English market; and (b) works closely with Ofwat as they review the English non-household retail market and its operation since opening, including with regard to SMEs.

Ofwat monitors and assesses the non-household retail water market in England on an ongoing basis. It commissioned customer research to gauge directly customers’ experiences of the market, including views on the interactions between the markets in England, Scotland and Wales. This information was published in July 2018 as the Ofwat customer insight survey.

Ofwat’s first annual assessment of the market, Open for Business, also published in July 2018, highlighted a number of areas in which to achieve better outcomes for business customers in England, including SMEs.

Grouped Questions: HL15552
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Companies: Competition
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the Scottish non-household retail water market in encouraging switching by SMEs when compared with the English non-household retail water market.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (a) undertook some analysis of the Scottish SME non-household retail water market during the initial planning stages of opening up the English market; and (b) works closely with Ofwat as they review the English non-household retail market and its operation since opening, including with regard to SMEs.

Ofwat monitors and assesses the non-household retail water market in England on an ongoing basis. It commissioned customer research to gauge directly customers’ experiences of the market, including views on the interactions between the markets in England, Scotland and Wales. This information was published in July 2018 as the Ofwat customer insight survey.

Ofwat’s first annual assessment of the market, Open for Business, also published in July 2018, highlighted a number of areas in which to achieve better outcomes for business customers in England, including SMEs.

Grouped Questions: HL15551
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cyprus: Peace Negotiations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Report of the Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, submitted to the UN Security Council on 16 April; and what assessment they have made of the preparedness of the Greek Cypriot political community to agree a solution on the basis of political equality with the Turkish Cypriot community within the framework of UN parameters following the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriot electorate and the failure of the Crans-Montana talks.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

​The UK is grateful for the ongoing work of the Secretary General and his good offices on the island, as we are to Ms Jane Holl Lute for her ongoing consultations with the parties. We endorse the Secretary-General's view that prospects for a settlement remain alive, as reaffirmed in his April report. We echo his calls for the leaders to engage constructively, creatively and with the necessary sense of urgency. We also welcome the UN Security Council's recent call for the two sides to agree terms of reference as a basis for meaningful result-orientated negotiations.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review their decision to dismiss Sir Roger Scruton from his post as Chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, in the light of reports that his opinions have been misrepresented.
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is an independent body that will advise Government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new-build homes and neighbourhoods. In the light of the recent decision to discontinue the role of Sir Roger Scruton as Chair of the Commission, the Secretary of State will be selecting and announcing a new Chair in due course. In the meantime, the work of the Commission will continue with Nicholas Boys Smith as interim Chair, with the aim of producing an interim report to the Secretary of State in July and final report in December.

Q
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Furniture: Fire Resistant Materials
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they taking to comply with the Stockholm Agreement and other agreements on the control of hazardous chemicals for any UK upholstered furniture containing a number of persistent organic pollutants with no available information or register of their chemical composition, in particular, flame retardants.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The UK has some of the most rigorous chemical regulations in the world. The Government implements the Stockholm Convention through EU Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Chemicals in use also have to go through assessments under the REACH Regulation (No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). All furniture placed on the market in the UK must comply with these regulations.

We are committed to improving traceability of chemicals in products and waste and are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on this.

Specifically, the Government is reviewing the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 and has consulted on whether to introduce a specific requirement for furniture labels to stipulate any flame retardants used in their manufacture. The Government’s response to the consultation will be published in due course.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Business Confidence Monitor Q2 2019, published in May, which suggests a decline in confidence of UK businesses due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The latest ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) shows that business confidence has not fallen significantly this quarter.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy picked up in the first three months of the year - Growth was 0.5% in the quarter, up from 0.2% in the previous three months. The employment rate (16-64) remained at 76.1%– at a record high. Employment increased by 99,000 on the quarter, standing at 32.7m – remaining broadly unchanged on the last labour market statistics release.

Asked on: 07 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Biodiversity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to remain closely aligned with the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy after Brexit; and if not, what plans they have to implement a long-term post-Brexit strategy on biodiversity.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The Government is committed to ensuring that, when the UK leaves the EU, our existing environmental protections are maintained and, where possible, enhanced. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act ensures that the whole body of existing EU environmental law, including the Habitats and the Wild Birds Directives, continues to have effect in UK law following our departure from the EU.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy implements commitments to halt biodiversity loss agreed in 2010 by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Biodiversity policy is devolved in the UK. In England, those same international commitments to halt biodiversity loss are implemented through the Biodiversity 2020 Strategy and related documents such as the National Pollinator Strategy.

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, we committed to developing a new strategy for nature to replace Biodiversity 2020. Our intention is to publish this strategy in early 2021 to take forward the new international commitments for biodiversity, in particular the new global biodiversity framework, to be agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity, in 2020. It will also set out in more detail how we intend to take forward the ambitions for nature in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Under the new strategy, the Government will continue to work towards, among other things, clean, safe, healthy, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas; and on land, restoring 75% of our protected sites to favourable condition by 2042 and establishing a Nature Recovery Network. The Nature Recovery Network will expand and connect wildlife rich habitat by developing landscape scale partnerships to manage land in a way that supports the recovery of our much loved wildlife.

Q
Asked by John Healey
(Wentworth and Dearne)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Construction
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the he National Audit's Office press release of 2 May 2019, Investigation into the government’s land disposal strategy and programmes, and its assertion that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government expects departments to have released enough land for around 65,000 homes by 2020, against a target of at least 160,000, what the evidential basis is for his Department's estimated performance against that target.
A
Answered by: James Brokenshire
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The estimate is based on department’s risk based assessment of their disposal opportunities in the Public Land for Housing programme. The Public Land for Housing programme (2015-20) Programme Handbook for Departments and Arm’s Length Bodies August 2018 sets out how risk ratings are defined, and provides guidance on monitoring, reporting and evidence keeping for the programme. All departments actively manage their pipeline of sites for disposal and apply appropriate risk ratings and mitigation strategies. The Programme Handbook is available via the gov.uk webpages.

Q
Asked by Angela Rayner
(Ashton-under-Lyne)
[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: 08 May 2019
Department for Education
Pupil Exclusions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the relationship between (a) disparities in funding for schools and local authorities and (b) rates of pupil exclusion.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 20 May 2019
Holding answer received on 13 May 2019

There is no known correlation at area level between rates of exclusion and levels of funding.

This Government has prioritised funds for the most disadvantaged pupils, including through the Pupil Premium and Pupil Premium Plus, which supports looked after children. For children and young people with more complex needs, the Department has also confirmed an additional £250 million in high needs funding over 2018-19 and 2019-20, included in the £6.3 billion total for high needs funding this year.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for International Development
Kenya: Abortion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 18 September (HL10124) which stated that "we have no breakdown of funding for any abortion provision, or estimate of the number of procedures because this is a new programme, and the procurement of the implementing partner is underway", now that the implementing partner has been procured, how much of the £36 million of funding for family planning in Kenya will be spent on abortion provision and related activities; and how many abortion procedures will be funded by the project.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The ‘Delivering Sustainable and Equitable Increases in Family Planning in Kenya’ programme will take an integrated approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to meet a wide range of women’s reproductive health needs. Because these services are to be integrated, it is not possible to disaggregate figures solely relating to safe abortion procedures. Over the life of the programme, it is expected to reach 322,000 additional users and it will provide 2.3 million Couple Years of Protection (CYP) and avert 2,221 maternal deaths.

The aim of DFID’s work on sexual and reproductive health and rights is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, increase the use of voluntary family planning, and give women control over their own bodies and lives.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Serbia: Refugees
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will discuss with the government of Serbia ways and means of addressing the needs of refugees and migrants on their territory; and in particular, to identify those who may have close family members living legitimately in the UK.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2019

We regularly discuss issues relating to refugees and migrants with the Serbian authorities, including with the Minister of Interior, Nebojsa Stefanovic. Minister Stefanovic visited London on 29 April 2019 and discussed a number of issues including migration during his meeting with Home Office Minister Ben Wallace.


In recent years Her Majesty's Government, through the UK’s Migration Returns Fund, has provided support to strengthen migration and asylum management systems in Serbia, building institutional, administrative and judicial capacity. This included the use of UK expertise to help the Serbian authorities more effectively manage the arrival of asylum-seekers in line with international standards.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Fracking
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 10 April (HL15067), in the event that any and all “other appropriate parties”, including other licensees or landowners, failed to decommission and return a fracking site to its former state, who would ultimately bear the financial burden.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 20 May 2019

There is no precedent for the scenario above arising, in respect of hydraulically fractured wells in the UK.

The Government has been clear that the responsibility for decommissioning lies with the licensee and has sought to reinforce this principle. For example, as set out in the Written Answer of 10 April (HL15067) that as part of the associated application for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent, the Government looks at the financial resilience of all companies wishing to carry out hydraulic fracturing operations, including their ability to fund decommissioning costs. My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State will not issue Hydraulic Fracturing Consent unless he is satisfied this has been appropriately demonstrated.

To date, there have only been two hydraulically fractured shale gas wells in the UK. The first, at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in Lancashire, has been fully decommissioned and the land restored to its previous use. The second, Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road well-1z, is still operational.

Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Fracking
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 10 April (HL15067), what assessment they have made of the potential liabilities for local authorities in the event that an operator and “other appropriate parties” do not decommission and return a fracking site to its former state.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 20 May 2019

There is no precedent for hydraulically fractured shale gas well decommissioning costs being borne by local authorities.

The Government has been clear that the responsibility for decommissioning lies with the licensee and has sought to reinforce this principle. For example, as set out in the Written Answer of 10 April (HL15067) that as part of the associated application for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent, the Government looks at the financial resilience of all companies wishing to carry out hydraulic fracturing operations, including their ability to fund decommissioning costs. My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State will not issue Hydraulic Fracturing Consent unless he is satisfied this has been appropriately demonstrated.

In addition, Mineral Planning Authorities may require that bonds or other financial guarantees are taken to underpin a planning condition.

To date, there have only been two hydraulically fractured shale gas wells in the UK. The first, at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in Lancashire, has been fully decommissioned and the land restored to its previous use. The second, Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road well-1z, is still operational.

Q
Asked by Lord Truscott
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Monuments: Construction
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in deciding where to build public monuments, they consider their visual, aesthetic and environmental impact.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 20 May 2019

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the guidelines by which planning decisions should be made. There is no separate national policy specifically relating to public monuments.

Q
(Glasgow North West)
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Special Olympics
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to (a) support the Special Olympics and (b) ensure that Special Olympics GB receives adequate funding over the next five years.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 20 May 2019

Government recognises the importance of sport and physical activity for disabled people who take part at both the grassroots and the elite level, as set out in the government’s sport and physical activity strategy 'Sporting Future'.

Special Olympics GB (SOGB) received a three year grant from Sport England, the government arm’s length body for grassroots sport in England, totalling £204,363 for its core activities from October 2017 to September 2020. This grant is part of Sport England’s £1.6m grant funding to National Disability Sports Organisations.

SOGB was also granted £43,344 of Commercial Consultancy Support (2018/19) by Sport England. Through this support they are working with Sport Collective, a sports rights and marketing agency, to identify their brand assets and value, identify and target potential partners and develop their sponsorship material.

In addition, Sport England also gave SOGB a further £152,000 of Exchequer investment in December 2018/January 2019. This was to help SOGB engage more volunteers and sponsors, to increase the numbers in their volunteer recruitment programme, and to deliver partnership competitions.

Sport England will be meeting SOGB and other National Disability Sport Organisations later this year to discuss the potential and process for further investment post-October 2020.

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