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
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 10 September 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter: Fines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage local authorities to impose fines for littering and flytipping.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 13 September 2018

The Government published the Litter Strategy for England in 2017, setting out our approach of applying best practice in education, enforcement and ‘binfrastructure’ in order to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation.

The Litter Strategy sets out a number of proposals to improve enforcement against littering, including commitments to “support councils in using new powers to issue fixed penalties for small‑scale fly‑tipping offences”, and “deliver guidance to promote proportionate and responsible enforcement”. Alongside the Strategy, we also consulted on proposals to increase the fixed penalty for littering, and to give councils improved powers to take enforcement action against littering from vehicles.

Through the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group we have published guidance which sets out clearly the powers available to local authorities when tackling fly-tipping. It is the responsibility of local authorities to use the full range of enforcement powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping. The list of powers is online here: http://www.tacklingflytipping.com/Documents/NFTPG-CaseStudies/Fly-tipping-responsibilities-Guide-for-local-authorities-and-land-manage....pdf

With effect from April 2018, we have increased the maximum fixed penalty for littering from £80 to £150, and given councils in England new powers to tackle littering from vehicles. We have no plans to make further changes to the level of fixed penalties at this stage. It is for councils now to use these powers and some are already taking advantage of them.

We have also recently consulted on improved guidance on the proportionate use of these enforcement powers, which we propose to incorporate into the statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. That consultation closed on 8 June and responses are currently being considered. We expect to publish the revised guidance later this year.

Grouped Questions: 172466
Q
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 10 September 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter: Fines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the maximum fine for littering.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 13 September 2018

The Government published the Litter Strategy for England in 2017, setting out our approach of applying best practice in education, enforcement and ‘binfrastructure’ in order to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation.

The Litter Strategy sets out a number of proposals to improve enforcement against littering, including commitments to “support councils in using new powers to issue fixed penalties for small‑scale fly‑tipping offences”, and “deliver guidance to promote proportionate and responsible enforcement”. Alongside the Strategy, we also consulted on proposals to increase the fixed penalty for littering, and to give councils improved powers to take enforcement action against littering from vehicles.

Through the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group we have published guidance which sets out clearly the powers available to local authorities when tackling fly-tipping. It is the responsibility of local authorities to use the full range of enforcement powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping. The list of powers is online here: http://www.tacklingflytipping.com/Documents/NFTPG-CaseStudies/Fly-tipping-responsibilities-Guide-for-local-authorities-and-land-manage....pdf

With effect from April 2018, we have increased the maximum fixed penalty for littering from £80 to £150, and given councils in England new powers to tackle littering from vehicles. We have no plans to make further changes to the level of fixed penalties at this stage. It is for councils now to use these powers and some are already taking advantage of them.

We have also recently consulted on improved guidance on the proportionate use of these enforcement powers, which we propose to incorporate into the statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. That consultation closed on 8 June and responses are currently being considered. We expect to publish the revised guidance later this year.

Grouped Questions: 172465
Q
(Preston)
Asked on: 20 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the growth of bacteria in water as a result of dog fouling.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 25 July 2018

For drinking water, sources are generally protected from any animal access, and where this is not possible, water companies use a multi-barrier approach, including treatment and disinfection to make sure the water is safe.

For bathing water, the 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our commitment to minimise by 2030 the harmful bacteria in our designated bathing waters and to continue to improve the cleanliness of our waters. The Environment Agency (EA) investigates if a bathing water is classified as poor or is deteriorating and works with local authority and other stakeholders to take appropriate measures to reduce pollution.

In addition, local councils have a duty to ensure that public areas are kept clear of litter and refuse. This includes removing dog faeces from certain types of land, including parks, picnic and recreation areas, car parks, pedestrianised shopping streets, and certain leisure beaches and promenades.

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
Asked on: 17 July 2018
Home Office
Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many Community Protection Notices have been issued for littering in England in each year since the enactment of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 24 July 2018

This information is not held.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides the police and local authorities with a range of flexible powers that they can use to tackle anti-social and nuisance behaviour. The Home Office does not collect information on why or how often these powers are used by local agencies.

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
Asked on: 17 July 2018
Department for Transport
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what changes have been made to the performance specification for Highways England to reflect the goal of improving litter cleaning set out on page 58 of the 2017 Litter Strategy for England.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 24 July 2018

The Department is currently considering a revised Key Performance Indicator for Highways England as part of the development of the second Road Investment Strategy (2020 – 2025).

Grouped Questions: 164937
Q
(Chipping Barnet)
Asked on: 17 July 2018
Department for Transport
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to page 58 of the 2017 Litter Strategy for England, whether a revised Key Performance Indicator has been introduced for Highways England relating to litter cleaning.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 24 July 2018

The Department is currently considering a revised Key Performance Indicator for Highways England as part of the development of the second Road Investment Strategy (2020 – 2025).

Grouped Questions: 164935
Q
(Chipping Barnet)
Asked on: 17 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 51 of the Government's 2017 Litter Strategy, what progress his Department has made on working with HM Prison and Probation Service to involve fly tipping offenders in clearing fly tipped waste.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 23 July 2018

The initial meetings of the roadside litter working group agreed on the need to improve councils’ enforcement powers against littering from vehicles as a priority. With effect from April 2018, we have given district councils in England outside London (London boroughs already have similar powers) new powers to hold the keeper of a vehicle responsible for littering offences committed from it.

During 2017-18, Defra has prioritised work to deliver the Government’s commitments relating to enforcement. As part of that work, we have proposed an amendment to the Code of Practice to incorporate the improved guidance on enforcement.

During 2018-19, we will take forward a broader update and review of the Code of Practice, and will work with HM Prison & Probation Service to explore opportunities to promote activities involving clearing litter and fly-tipped waste as part of Community Payback schemes, in circumstances in which community volunteers are unlikely to be operating.

As set out in the Litter Strategy, we are committed to providing an annual report on our progress for the rest of this Parliament. Our first annual report on delivery of the Litter Strategy will be published shortly, providing an update on our progress to date, and setting out some of the further activities we intend to take forward over the next year.

Grouped Questions: 164931 | 164938
Q
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 17 July 2018
Department for Transport
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to page 57 of the Government's Litter strategy, published in April 2017, the number of partnerships Highways England has entered into with local authorities in relation to co-operation in tackling roadside litter.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 23 July 2018

Highways England currently have 21 collaboration agreements in place formally with local authorities in relation to tackling roadside litter. Highways England also have informal partnerships with other Local Authorities, and are pursuing new opportunities for increased collaboration.

Q
(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 17 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Balloons and Sky Lanterns: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the legislation regulating the release of helium-filled balloons and sky lanterns.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 23 July 2018

There is no legislation that specifically regulates the release of helium-filled balloons and sky lanterns.

The National Association of Balloon Artists and Suppliers, the trade association for the balloon industry, has published a code of conduct to minimise the environmental impact of balloon releases. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has published a code of practice for sky lanterns to help ensure that they are manufactured to be safe and are sold responsibly.

Local councils have powers to restrict or regulate the release of balloons and sky lanterns on land that they control. Councils can also take an individual to court, or issue a fixed penalty notice, if they believe them to be guilty of a littering offence.

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 17 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter: Roads
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the outcome has been of the activities of the working group on roadside litter referred to on page 56 of the 2017 Litter Strategy for England.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 23 July 2018

The initial meetings of the roadside litter working group agreed on the need to improve councils’ enforcement powers against littering from vehicles as a priority. With effect from April 2018, we have given district councils in England outside London (London boroughs already have similar powers) new powers to hold the keeper of a vehicle responsible for littering offences committed from it.

During 2017-18, Defra has prioritised work to deliver the Government’s commitments relating to enforcement. As part of that work, we have proposed an amendment to the Code of Practice to incorporate the improved guidance on enforcement.

During 2018-19, we will take forward a broader update and review of the Code of Practice, and will work with HM Prison & Probation Service to explore opportunities to promote activities involving clearing litter and fly-tipped waste as part of Community Payback schemes, in circumstances in which community volunteers are unlikely to be operating.

As set out in the Litter Strategy, we are committed to providing an annual report on our progress for the rest of this Parliament. Our first annual report on delivery of the Litter Strategy will be published shortly, providing an update on our progress to date, and setting out some of the further activities we intend to take forward over the next year.

Grouped Questions: 164927 | 164938
Q
(Chipping Barnet)
Asked on: 17 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 60 of the 2017 Litter Strategy for England, what progress the Government has made in reviewing the mechanism by which councils and other land-managers are held to account for maintaining their land to the standards set out in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 23 July 2018

The initial meetings of the roadside litter working group agreed on the need to improve councils’ enforcement powers against littering from vehicles as a priority. With effect from April 2018, we have given district councils in England outside London (London boroughs already have similar powers) new powers to hold the keeper of a vehicle responsible for littering offences committed from it.

During 2017-18, Defra has prioritised work to deliver the Government’s commitments relating to enforcement. As part of that work, we have proposed an amendment to the Code of Practice to incorporate the improved guidance on enforcement.

During 2018-19, we will take forward a broader update and review of the Code of Practice, and will work with HM Prison & Probation Service to explore opportunities to promote activities involving clearing litter and fly-tipped waste as part of Community Payback schemes, in circumstances in which community volunteers are unlikely to be operating.

As set out in the Litter Strategy, we are committed to providing an annual report on our progress for the rest of this Parliament. Our first annual report on delivery of the Litter Strategy will be published shortly, providing an update on our progress to date, and setting out some of the further activities we intend to take forward over the next year.

Grouped Questions: 164927 | 164931
Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North West)
Asked on: 09 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Waste
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of plastic pollution on flora and fauna in oceans.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 16 July 2018

A five-year-long Defra-funded study found that microplastics can cause harm to marine life. In response to this evidence, we introduced one of the world’s strongest microbead bans. We are continuing to look at other sources of microplastics, and have a monitoring programme running looking at microplastics in sediment and biota.

The UK has a widely respected UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme in place. This scheme investigates the causes of death of stranded cetaceans around the UK coast, improving our understanding of, and ability to tackle, key threats. In the UK, ingestion of marine litter has been implicated in the death of one individual (a Cuvier’s beaked whale in 2015) since the inception of the UK strandings programme in 1990 (this covers the examination of 3586 individuals over that time period).

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 20 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Transport, (b) Highways England, (c) the Road Haulage Association and (d) the Freight Transport Association on preventing and removing roadside litter.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 26 June 2018

The Litter Strategy for England contains commitments to work with Highways England and others to tackle litter on the roadside, and to work with local councils, ports and the haulage industry to improve facilities for hauliers, fishing vessels and others to dispose of their litter and waste.

Defra Ministers have met their Department for Transport counterparts to discuss these issues and agree measures to reduce and remove litter from the Strategic Road Network. Highways England was also represented at these meetings.

Defra Ministers also raised the issue of litter at a meeting with the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association in January this year, and the Department has written to both organisations following the introduction of new local authority powers to tackle littering from vehicles in April this year.

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 20 June 2018
Department for Transport
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Highways England on the removal of litter from the edge of the roads for which that organisation has responsibility.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 25 June 2018

The Secretary of State for Transport and the Roads Minister discuss issues affecting Highways England regularly with the Chief Executive of Highways England, and these discussions are continued at official level. Issues covered include the provision of litter collection by the side of the Strategic Road Network and progress on delivery of commitments set out in the Government Litter Strategy 2017.

Q
(Chipping Barnet)
[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: 20 June 2018
Department for Transport
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the (a) Freight Transport Association and (b) Road Haulage Association on measures to prevent litter from being blown off open lorries and left as litter on the roadside.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 25 June 2018

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency has published guidance on securing loads carried on vehicles. The guidance states that tarpaulins or netting/sheeting should be used on tippers, bulk containers and skips to stop loose items from falling.

The Litter Strategy for England 2017 sets out the commitment of the Government and Highways England to a range of measures to reduce roadside litter on motorways and a small number of all-purpose trunk roads. The responsibility for litter clearance on the rest of the trunk road network lies with the relevant local district and borough councils.

Q
Asked by Dan Carden
(Liverpool, Walton)
[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: 18 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Rodents: Pest Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the powers available to local authorities to tackle (a) rodent and (b) rat infestations in urban areas.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 21 June 2018

No specific assessment of the effectiveness of the powers available to local authorities to tackle rat and mice infestations in urban areas has been made.

The Secretary of State has not had to use powers available to him under section 12 of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to empower persons to exercise rodent control functions on behalf of an authority which has been judged to have unsatisfactorily performed those functions.

In 2017, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) published estimates of the proportion of houses where mice and rats were present in England. This can be viewed at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15723-9

Higher prevalence was consistently observed in older and rented houses, when litter was present around a dwelling and when pets or livestock were present. The household and regional factors included in the analysis explained some, but not all, of the variation in rodent prevalence over time. This suggests that other factors not included in APHA’s models might also influence prevalence. The level of rodent control effort made by householders also varied over time, probably as a response to changes in rodent prevalence.

Defra has not received any representations from local authorities on rodent or rat infestations in urban areas in the last three years.

Grouped Questions: 154804 | 154805
Q
Asked by Dan Carden
(Liverpool, Walton)
[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: 18 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Rodents: Pest Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of (a) rodent and (b) rat infestations in urban areas.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 21 June 2018

No specific assessment of the effectiveness of the powers available to local authorities to tackle rat and mice infestations in urban areas has been made.

The Secretary of State has not had to use powers available to him under section 12 of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to empower persons to exercise rodent control functions on behalf of an authority which has been judged to have unsatisfactorily performed those functions.

In 2017, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) published estimates of the proportion of houses where mice and rats were present in England. This can be viewed at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15723-9

Higher prevalence was consistently observed in older and rented houses, when litter was present around a dwelling and when pets or livestock were present. The household and regional factors included in the analysis explained some, but not all, of the variation in rodent prevalence over time. This suggests that other factors not included in APHA’s models might also influence prevalence. The level of rodent control effort made by householders also varied over time, probably as a response to changes in rodent prevalence.

Defra has not received any representations from local authorities on rodent or rat infestations in urban areas in the last three years.

Grouped Questions: 154803 | 154805
Q
Asked by Dan Carden
(Liverpool, Walton)
[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: 18 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Rodents: Pest Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations his Department has received from local authorities on (a) rodent and (b) rat infestations in urban areas in the last three years.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 21 June 2018

No specific assessment of the effectiveness of the powers available to local authorities to tackle rat and mice infestations in urban areas has been made.

The Secretary of State has not had to use powers available to him under section 12 of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to empower persons to exercise rodent control functions on behalf of an authority which has been judged to have unsatisfactorily performed those functions.

In 2017, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) published estimates of the proportion of houses where mice and rats were present in England. This can be viewed at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15723-9

Higher prevalence was consistently observed in older and rented houses, when litter was present around a dwelling and when pets or livestock were present. The household and regional factors included in the analysis explained some, but not all, of the variation in rodent prevalence over time. This suggests that other factors not included in APHA’s models might also influence prevalence. The level of rodent control effort made by householders also varied over time, probably as a response to changes in rodent prevalence.

Defra has not received any representations from local authorities on rodent or rat infestations in urban areas in the last three years.

Grouped Questions: 154803 | 154804
Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 19 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Litter Strategy for England, issued in Aril 2017.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 21 June 2018

We have made good progress in delivering the commitments set out in the Litter Strategy, including improving councils’ enforcement powers and launching the Litter Innovation Fund. The first annual report on progress will be published shortly.

Q
Asked by Laura Smith
(Crewe and Nantwich)
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress has been made on implementing the 36 tasks in the Litter Strategy for England, published in April 2017.
A
Answered by: David Rutley
Answered on: 13 June 2018

We have made good progress in delivering the actions set out in the Litter Strategy, including bringing into force new Regulations to improve local authority enforcement powers, launching the Litter Innovation Fund, and consulting on improved guidance on enforcement.

We have committed to reporting annually to Parliament on our progress with the actions set out in the Strategy: the first report is in preparation and will be published shortly.

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