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 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Huddersfield)
[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: 09 March 2020
Ministry of Justice
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many (a) people and (b) women have been imprisoned by Magistrates’ Courts in England and Wales for the non-payment of TV licence evasion fines in each year since 1995.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 12 March 2020

The number of people admitted to prison for failing to pay fines in respect of the non-payment of a TV licence in England and Wales in each year since 1995 can be viewed in the attached table.

A person cannot receive a custodial sentence for TV licence evasion but can be committed to prison for wilfully refusing to pay the fine. Imprisonment is only pursued as a matter of last resort.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 20.1 KB)
Q
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Home Office
Extradition: USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people have been extradited to the United States under the UK–US extradition treaty of 2003.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Extradition Treaty between the UK and the US came into force on 26 April 2007. Since that date 133 people have been extradited to the US. Of those, nine were extradited for terrorism offences and 57 were extradited for finance-related charges, including wire fraud. The following offences have been included in this broad category of criminality:

  • Wire Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Conspiracy to Defraud
  • Tax Evasion / Offences
  • Securities Fraud
  • Money Laundering
  • Computer Fraud
  • Mail fraud

Information on plea bargaining is not centrally recorded by the Home Office.

All figures are from local management information and have not been quality assured to the level of published National Statistics. As such they should be treated as provisional and therefore subject to change. The figures do not include Scotland, which deals with its own extradition cases.

Grouped Questions: HL1977 | HL1978
Q
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Home Office
Extradition: USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people extradited to the United States under the UK–US extradition treaty of 2003 were accused of (1) offences related to terrorism, and (2) finance-related charges, including wire fraud.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Extradition Treaty between the UK and the US came into force on 26 April 2007. Since that date 133 people have been extradited to the US. Of those, nine were extradited for terrorism offences and 57 were extradited for finance-related charges, including wire fraud. The following offences have been included in this broad category of criminality:

  • Wire Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Conspiracy to Defraud
  • Tax Evasion / Offences
  • Securities Fraud
  • Money Laundering
  • Computer Fraud
  • Mail fraud

Information on plea bargaining is not centrally recorded by the Home Office.

All figures are from local management information and have not been quality assured to the level of published National Statistics. As such they should be treated as provisional and therefore subject to change. The figures do not include Scotland, which deals with its own extradition cases.

Grouped Questions: HL1976 | HL1978
Q
Asked on: 26 February 2020
Home Office
Extradition: USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of those extradited under the UK–US extradition treaty of 2003 entered a plea bargain in the US judicial system.
Answered on: 11 March 2020

The Extradition Treaty between the UK and the US came into force on 26 April 2007. Since that date 133 people have been extradited to the US. Of those, nine were extradited for terrorism offences and 57 were extradited for finance-related charges, including wire fraud. The following offences have been included in this broad category of criminality:

  • Wire Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Conspiracy to Defraud
  • Tax Evasion / Offences
  • Securities Fraud
  • Money Laundering
  • Computer Fraud
  • Mail fraud

Information on plea bargaining is not centrally recorded by the Home Office.

All figures are from local management information and have not been quality assured to the level of published National Statistics. As such they should be treated as provisional and therefore subject to change. The figures do not include Scotland, which deals with its own extradition cases.

Grouped Questions: HL1976 | HL1977
Q
Asked by Tulip Siddiq
(Hampstead and Kilburn)
Asked on: 27 February 2020
Treasury
Free Zones: Money Laundering and Tax Evasion
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the correlation between the operation of freeports and (a) tax evasion and (b) money laundering.
A
Answered by: Steve Barclay
Answered on: 04 March 2020

The UK plays a key role in tackling cross-border illegal activity and this is not going to change. UK Freeports will be innovative hubs that boost trade, attract inward investment and drive productive activity across the UK. HMRC have been closely involved in their design to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of tax towards funding our vital public services, while boosting growth in all regions of the UK.

Q
(Upper Bann)
Asked on: 24 February 2020
Treasury
Fuels: Tax Evasion
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the loss in revenue as a result of fuel laundering activities in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 03 March 2020

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) estimate the difference between expected revenues and the tax that is actually paid in the annual publication, Measuring Tax Gaps: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/measuring-tax-gaps. These estimates cannot be disaggregated by type of fraud, for example laundering.

HMRC have estimated the oils (fuel duty) tax gap (including VAT) in Northern Ireland as follows:

  • £40 million in 2017-18
  • £40 million in 2016-17
  • £50 million in 2015-16
  • £50 million in 2014-15
  • £50 million in 2013-14

The estimates for 2015-16 and earlier years were calculated using a different methodology and therefore cannot be compared to the estimates for subsequent years.

Asked on: 13 February 2020
Treasury
Tax Evasion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to investigate and address tax evasion.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 27 February 2020

The Government is committed to tackling tax evasion at all levels. The Government has introduced over 100 measures to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and other forms of non-compliance since 2010. Together with HMRC’s compliance work, the government has secured and protected an additional £200 billion in tax revenue which would otherwise have gone unpaid.

This success demonstrates the Government’s continued efforts to address tax evasion, avoidance and non-compliance in all its forms.

HM Revenue and Customs strategic approach is to use the most appropriate, cost-effective, and highest-impact way to encourage and support all taxpayers in complying with their obligations.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what her Department's policy is on the decriminalisation of TV licence fee evasion.
A
Answered by: Mr John Whittingdale
Answered on: 27 February 2020

On 5 February, the Government announced an 8 week consultation on whether to proceed with the decriminalisation of TV licence evasion by replacing the criminal sanction with an alternative civil enforcement scheme.

The Government believes that it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction remains appropriate for TV licence fee evasion, given ongoing concerns about whether the criminal sanction is unfair and disproportionate.

Following careful consideration of the responses, the Government expects to publish a response by summer 2020.

Q
Asked by Tracy Brabin
(Batley and Spen)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 24 February 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has held with representatives of the BBC on the future of the licence fee; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mr John Whittingdale
Answered on: 27 February 2020

The Secretary of State for DCMS recently met with the Chairman of the BBC Board and the Director-General of the BBC to discuss a range of matters relating to the BBC.

The government has committed to maintain the licence fee funding model for the duration of this 11 year Charter period, until 2027.

The current licence fee settlement is agreed until April 2022. This includes the licence fee rising by inflation each year. Negotiations for the next licence fee settlement period, from April 2022, will take place in due course.

The government is committed to ensuring that the BBC and all public service broadcasters adapt to a fast changing market, and keeping them at the heart of our world class TV sector.

Ahead of the next Charter Review process, the Government will undertake a detailed look at the future of the TV licence model itself.

And we have recently launched a consultation on whether TV licence evasion should be decriminalised. We believe that it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction remains appropriate for TV licence fee evasion given ongoing concerns about whether the criminal sanction is unfair and disproportionate.

Q
(Livingston)
[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: 11 February 2020
Ministry of Justice
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many (a) women and (b) men were (i) charged, (ii) convicted and (iii) received custodial sentences in relation to television licence fraud in the last 12 months for which such information is available.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 24 February 2020

The Ministry of Justice holds and publishes data on prosecutions, convictions and sentencing outcomes, but not on charges. We have interpreted your questions to be related to non-payment of television licence fees rather than fraud. Figures for prosecutions, convictions and sentencing outcomes for the non-payment of TV licence fees up to 2018 are available in the Outcomes by Offence data tool:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/802314/outcomes-by-offence-tool-2018.xlsx

Filter by offence ‘191A Television licence evasion’. Then drag the ‘Sex’ filter into the rows field. The number of a) females, b) males convicted of this offence are shown in rows 35 and 34, respectively.

The number of a) females and b) males sentenced to immediate custody can be found in rows 90 and 89, respectively. However, custody is not a sentencing option for TV licence evasion, therefore these rows appear as nil.

Asked on: 11 February 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Oil
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of China shipped more than 10,000 tons of oil to North Korea in the last four months of 2019; and whether they intend to highlight those reports at the next UN Security Council meeting.
A
Answered on: 24 February 2020

The British Government is committed to upholding sanctions on North Korea and is working with international partners to curtail North Korea's nuclear and missile capability. The UK is concerned about North Korea's evasion of UN sanctions, including via ship-to-ship transfers of unrefined petroleum. We think it highly likely that North Korea has breached the cap in oil imports permitted under UN Security Council resolutions. We have raised our concerns with UN Security Council members, including China. Sanctions must remain in place until North Korea denuclearises.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 11 February 2020
Department for International Development
Developing Countries: Taxation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps his Department is taking to help developing countries tackle tax avoidance and evasion.
A
Answered by: James Duddridge
Answered on: 19 February 2020

DFID’s support is helping developing countries to collect more taxes from where they are due. The aim is to build self-sustaining economies that can generate their own financing through increased tax revenue and private investment. In addition to providing capacity building support in-country through bilateral support programmes, this includes providing £10.3 million to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to assist developing countries to implement international tax standards to tackle international tax evasion and avoidance. For example, through this funding we are supporting the ‘Tax Inspectors Without Borders’ initiative, which assists developing countries with issues such as complex international audits. This programme has generated an additional $100 in revenue for every $1 spent on operating costs.

Asked on: 05 February 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to de-criminalise non-payment of the BBC licence fee.
A
Answered by: Baroness Barran
Answered on: 13 February 2020

On 5 February, the Government announced an 8 week consultation on whether to proceed with the decriminalisation of TV licence evasion by replacing the criminal sanction with an alternative civil enforcement scheme. The Government believes that it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction remains appropriate for TV licence fee evasion, given ongoing concerns about whether the criminal sanction is unfair and disproportionate. Following careful consideration of the responses, the Government expects to publish a response by summer 2020.

Q
Asked by Kevin Brennan
(Cardiff West)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 22 January 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate she has made of the potential effect on BBC revenues of decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 27 January 2020

The potential effect on BBC revenues of decriminalising licence fee evasion was considered as part of David Perry QC’s TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review in 2015.

The government believes that it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction remains appropriate for TV licence fee evasion, given ongoing concerns about whether the criminal sanction is unfair and disproportionate.

Q
(Glasgow South West)
Asked on: 07 January 2020
Treasury
Tax Evasion
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people are employed to investigate tax evasion in HMRC's Wealthy Team unit; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 15 January 2020

As of 31 December 2019 HMRC’s Wealthy team had approximately 961 full time equivalent staff engaged in customer compliance activity.

The Wealthy team work with around 24,500 full time equivalent staff in HMRC’s Customer Compliance Group, including in Counter Avoidance and the Fraud Investigation service so that HMRC can effectively tackle avoidance and evasion within this customer segment. They also focus on promoting tax compliance and helping customers through digital services.

Q
(Christchurch)
[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: 19 December 2019
Ministry of Justice
Television: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prosecutions for television licence fee evasion were made by magistrates' courts in (a) Dorset and (b) England in the last 12 months for which information is available; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 07 January 2020

The Ministry of Justice has published information on prosecutions and court outcomes by police force area, which can be found in the Court Outcome by Police Force Area data tool available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/804509/court-outcomes-by-PFA-2018.xlsx

In the data tool:

  • Use the ‘Court type’ filter and select ’02: Magistrates court’.

  • Use the ‘Offence’ filter to select ‘191A Television licence evasion’.

  • Under the ‘Row Labels’ filter deselect ‘Dyfed-Powys, Gwent, North Wales and South Wales’ to include on the results for England. The number of prosecutions in a) each police force area, and b) the combined total across all areas, will then be visable by year.

    Following the introduction of Single Justice Procedure (SJP) offences in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, adults tried for summary non-imprisonable offences at the magistrates’ court can be dealt with remotely (the defendant does not need to physically attend court). Caution should be taken when interpreting trends by Police force area as particular courts may be allocated all the SJP offences for the entire region.

Q
Asked by Mike Amesbury
(Weaver Vale)
[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: 07 January 2020
Treasury
Tax Avoidance
Commons
What steps he is taking to ensure that HMRC has adequate (a) powers and (b) resources to investigate tax avoidance enablers.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 07 January 2020

The Government has taken significant action, including introducing 100 new measures tackling tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance since 2010. This has secured and protected £200bn that would have otherwise gone unpaid, helping to bring the UK’s tax gap to a near record low of 5.6%.

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