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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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
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to section 24 (3) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, when the Government laid before Parliament a copy of the (a) 6th Quinquennial Review advice received from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and (b) Government’s formal response to that review and any accompanying statements; where those documents can be located online; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 17 February 2020

The Government has not laid these documents before Parliament. In tandem with its advice to the governments of all GB administrations on species listing following the 6th Quinquennial review of Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) noted concerns from stakeholders that the selection criteria needed to be reviewed. The Government concluded that we should not consult upon species or amend legislation, based on criteria which were likely to be modified. Defra will arrange to lay these documents before Parliament as soon as possible.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 05 February 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
UK Trade with EU: Climate Change
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the written statement of 3 February 2020, HCWS86 on UK-EU relations, and the EU draft negotiating directives published on 3 February 2020, whether she plans to make tackling climate change a priority for a future trade agreement between the EU and the UK.
A
Answered by: Kwasi Kwarteng
Answered on: 14 February 2020

We want a relationship with the EU which is based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, and centred on free trade. We will have a relationship with our European friends inspired by our shared history and values.

The UK is committed to delivering our world-leading commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions and end the UK’s contribution to global warming by 2050. As my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister set out in his speech in Greenwich on the 3 February: “Britain was the first major economy in the world – let alone the EU – to place upon our own shoulders a legal obligation to be carbon neutral by 2050.”

As we prepare to host the crucial 2020 UN climate negotiations, COP26, in Glasgow in November, we will push for ambitious action from all countries to deliver the 2015 Paris Agreement, and showcase the UK’s climate leadership.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 05 February 2020
Prime Minister
UK Relations With EU: Sustainable Development
Commons
To ask the Prime Minister, with reference to the Written Statement of 3 February 2020, HCWS86 on UK/ EU relations, for what reasons that statement did not refer to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
A
Answered by: Boris Johnson
Answered on: 14 February 2020

The written ministerial statement sets out the Government’s proposed approach to the negotiations with the EU about our future relationship. Leaving the EU does not change our world-leading ambitions on the environment. We have a long history of environmental protection which predates membership of the EU, and we will safeguard and improve on this record.

The UK Government is committed to supporting implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. A comprehensive account of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals setting out how government, business, civil society and others are contributing to them both at home and around the world is available on gov.uk. It also sets out areas of further work and next steps.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uks-voluntary-national-review-of-the-sustainable-development-goals

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 06 February 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Conditions of Employment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities to (a) protect and (b) improve the rights of workers in the global information and communications technology sector through their (i) policies on and (ii) processes for procuring that technology.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 14 February 2020

Local authorities must act within their statutory powers, but they act independently of central government and are accountable to their electorate.

Councils are responsible for funding their local services, and they make contracting and procurement decisions according to what is best for those services in line with legal requirements (such as the Public Contract Regulations 2015) and their own local policy considerations.

We work closely with the sector to make sure councils are properly supported to improve and reform, drive efficiency and enhance effectiveness and resilience

In September 2019 Cabinet Office published new guidance to help government departments identify and avoid the risk of modern slavery in their supply chains during procurement processes. The detailed guidance advocates a proportionate, risk-based approach, setting out specific measures to be adopted at each stage of the commercial life-cycle, from pre-procurement to contract management. It also sets out how existing contracts can be risk assessed and suggests measures to manage the risks identified.

Whilst this is not mandatory for local government, many councils will use these as guidance to support or augment their procurement and commissioning policy development and practice or will develop their own tailored approach to consider potential risks such as inequality or poor working conditions in their supply chains.

Furthermore, for local authorities who use the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to purchase IT , CCS has partnered with Electronics Watch, a multi-stakeholder initiative, to improve conditions for workers at factory level in government ICT hardware supply chains. Electronics Watch’s work has led to workers in government supply chains being reimbursed for recruitment fees they paid.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 06 February 2020
House of Commons Commission
Parliamentary Estate: ICT
Commons
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2020 to Question 2472, what the budget was for information and communications technology equipment for the Parliamentary estate in each year from 2010 to 2019.
A
Answered by: Pete Wishart
Answered on: 13 February 2020

The expenditure on equipment by the Parliamentary Digital Service and its predecessor, the Parliamentary ICT Department, has been used rather than the budget to show what has actually been incurred on equipment purchases.

Information is not available prior to 2012/13 at the level requested and may not include all expenditure by the House of Lords. Figures for 2019/20 are to date.


Total spend

2012/13 £858k

2013/14 £1,372k

2014/15 £1,458k

2015/16 £4,808k

2016/17 £6,106k

2017/18 £4,892k

2018/19 £7,876k

2019/20 £2,270k

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 06 February 2020
House of Commons Commission
Parliamentary Estate: ICT
Commons
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2020 to Question 2472, what proportion of the budget for information and communications technology equipment for the Parliamentary estate was spent independently of the Crown Commissioning Group in each year from 2010 to 2019.
A
Answered by: Pete Wishart
Answered on: 13 February 2020

The proportion of the total expenditure for information and communications technology equipment for the Parliamentary estate, excluding some expenditure on House of Lords equipment, under non-Crown Commercial Service (CCS) contracts, or frameworks, is shown in the table. Information is not available prior to 2012/13.

FY

Total spend

Non-CCS %

2012/13

£858k

38.0%

2013/14

£1,372k

7.1%

2014/15

£1,458k

13.7%

2015/16

£4,808k

3.5%

2016/17

£6,106k

29.6%

2017/18

£4,892k

8.2%

2018/19

£7,876k

13.5%

2019/20

£2,270k

3.3%

Figures for 2019/20 to January 2020.

The large increases in 2012/13, 2016/17 and 2018/19 on non-CCS spend occurred when large purchases were made on Parliamentary contracts awarded under the OJEU process.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 06 February 2020
Cabinet Office
Conditions of Employment
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to (a) protect and (b) improve the rights of workers in the global information and communications technology sector through its (i) policies on and (ii) processes for procuring that technology throughout the government estate.
A
Answered by: Jeremy Quin
Answered on: 13 February 2020

This Government is committed to ethical and responsible procurement in all sectors, including the technology sector. This includes working with suppliers to identify and avoid the risk of modern slavery in Government Department’s supply chains, as part of wider Government action to tackle compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.

The Government is taking forward initiatives to tackle modern slavery in supply chains. In September 2019 we published new guidance to help Government departments identify and avoid the risk of modern slavery in their supply chains during procurement processes. It also sets out how existing contracts can be risk assessed and suggests measures to manage the risks identified. The Guidance contains several tools to support this work, including:

  • An online training course on ethical procurement following a partnership between the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), Government Commercial Function and the Home Office.

  • A Modern Slavery Assessment Tool to support public bodies assess their own supply base for modern slavery risks.

In 2019, we also published the updated 'Supplier Code of Conduct v2', which sets the standards and behaviours expected from suppliers (and separately grant recipients), and reiterates the government's approach to working with suppliers.

Crown Commercial Service’s Standard Contract includes a Schedule which sets out the behaviours expected of all government suppliers, including those in the ICT industry. The schedule covers several areas of worker's rights, including equality and accessibility, security of income, working hours and modern slavery.

Additionally, the Crown Commercial Service has partnered with Electronics Watch, a multi-stakeholder initiative, to improve conditions for workers at factory level in government ICT hardware supply chains. Electronics Watch’s work has led to workers in government supply chains being reimbursed for recruitment fees they paid. Government is also piloting a programme to improve responsible recruitment in parts of our health sector supply chains in South East Asia.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 06 February 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Forests
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department has taken to help the UK's forests and woodlands recover from Ash Dieback; and what steps her Department is taking to prevent new diseases being imported.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 13 February 2020

Since ash dieback was first detected in the UK, the Government has invested more than £6 million to advance our scientific understanding of this disease. We have conducted the world’s largest screening trials for tolerant trees and last month planted 3,000 trees in the first UK archive of tolerant ash. This will provide the basis for a breeding programme of tolerant ash over time and is a major step towards landscape recovery.

Guidance for landowners on managing diseased ash has been published, including a toolkit for local authorities which has been downloaded over 18,500 times. Defra also provides restoration grants to support replanting with alternative species where ash dieback is present.

The UK has robust controls in place to prevent new diseases being imported, including a comprehensive system of inspections and surveillance and a statutory notification scheme for certain tree species. Thirty-five high risk host species, including many native tree species such as ash, oak, beech, willow and birch, are now provisionally prohibited from import to the UK from outside the EU, until a full risk assessment has been carried out.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for Education
Students: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy for student loans, bursaries, grants and other student finance to be increased to reflect geographic variations in the cost of living.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 13 February 2020

The government has announced that maximum grants and loans for living and other costs will increase by 2.9% for the 2020/21 academic year starting in August 2020.

Means-tested grants and loans for living and other costs are a contribution towards a student’s costs while attending university.

The current system bases the amount of support a student is entitled to on the student’s household income rather than on family outgoings. It ensures that the most support is targeted consistently at families from the lowest income backgrounds who need it most. It also ensures that information on income for individual applicants can be effectively processed by Student Finance England who deal with more than one million applications for student support in time for the start of an academic year.

Maximum loans for living costs for the lowest income students living away from their parents’ home and studying at a university in London are set at a higher level than for students studying outside London or living in their parents’ home. This reflects the higher living costs that students attending courses in London may incur

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 10 February 2020
Department for International Trade
Products: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to her Written Statement 4 February 2020, Free Trade Agreements with the Rest of the World, HCWS96, if she will make it her policy that all imported products conform to regulatory requirements equivalent to those of products made in the UK; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Conor Burns
Answered on: 13 February 2020

The Government has been clear that we will not compromise on our world class product standards. Any future trade agreements must uphold our high regulatory standards. All products sold in the UK are required to meet our regulatory requirements, and this will continue to be the case.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress has been made by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in establishing Nucleus, the national nuclear archive, at Wick; what proportion of the known documentation destined for Nucleus has been shipped to the site to date; what plans there are to digitise the archive contents to facilitate remote searching and access; and what use has been made of Nucleus by outside interested parties since it was opened.
Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Cabinet Office
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his Department's policy is on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK to vote in (a) local, (b) regional and (c) national elections after the UK’s departure from the European Union; and when his Department plans to publish that policy.
Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Cabinet Office
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his Department's policy is on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, to stand for election in (a) local, (b) regional and (c) national elections after the UK’s exit from the European Union; and if he will make a statement.
Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Home Office
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to publish her Department’s (a) proposals for a points based immigration system and (b) guidance on that system for for (i) local authorities, (ii) charities, (iii) businesses and (iv) individuals planning to visit, work, study or settle in the UK from 2021.
Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 13 February 2020
Department for International Trade
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2020 to Question 12924, what her Department's timescale is for considering how to factor climate change and environmental impacts into the Government's trade strategy.
Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 04 February 2020
Department for Transport
Gatwick Express Railway Line: Fares
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it a condition of the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise that it reduce the price of its off-peak Gatwick Express tickets between Brighton and London to the cost of a Southern ticket during the upgrade work to Gatwick airport railway station when Southern off-peak services from London Victoria will not run direct to or from Brighton; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Chris Heaton-Harris
Answered on: 12 February 2020

GTR will be extending the Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 Southern fare products to be eligible on Gatwick Express services from Brighton for the duration of the Gatwick Station works.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 05 February 2020
Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Carbon Emissions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to the Prime Minister's speech in Greenwich on 3 February 2020, what steps the Government is taking to calculate the UK's carbon footprint in relation to (a) inward and (b) outward trade; and what estimate he has made of the potential increase in that footprint after the transition period.
A
Answered by: Graham Stuart
Answered on: 12 February 2020

The Department for International Trade is considering how to factor climate change and environmental impacts into the Government’s trade strategy, in order to drive the transition to a more sustainable global economy, whilst delivering economic benefits for the UK.

Climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions is driving a global market for ‘clean’ technologies, services and infrastructure. The Government will maintain and seek to advance the UK’s world-leading environmental, labour and anti-corruption standards, including to support domestic climate ambition and UK low carbon industries, technology and innovation.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 03 February 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Political Prisoners
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 16 January 2020 to Question 1712, on Bahrain: Human Rights, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on the provision of Government support to Bahrain's (a) Ombudsman and (b) Special Investigations Unit of the re-imposition of the death sentence for Husain Moosa and Mohammed Ramadhan; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 11 February 2020

The UK is committed to supporting Bahrain's oversight bodies, including the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman and the independent Special Investigations Unit. The support we provide to these bodies contributes to the development of both their capacity and capabilities. We have provided assistance in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme contributing to their work to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16 (strengthening institutions and increasing access to justice).

The capability of these bodies to hold government departments to account has been demonstrated through the prosecution of at least 97 police officers, accused of human rights violations. It was as a result of an investigation by the oversight bodies, that the cases of Mohammed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa were referred back to the Court of Cassation, leading to a re-trial in the Court of Appeal.

I have publicly reiterated my concern about the death sentences handed down to Husain Moosa and Mohammed Ramadhan. The trial will now be reviewed by the Court of Cassation.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
[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: 06 February 2020
Treasury
Gatwick Express Railway Line
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on reducing the price of off-peak Gatwick Express tickets between Brighton and London to the cost of a Southern ticket during the upgrade work to Gatwick airport railway station when Southern off-peak services from London Victoria will not run direct to or from Brighton; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Rishi Sunak
Answered on: 11 February 2020

Network Rail is upgrading Gatwick Airport station to improve passenger experience and provide more reliable journeys for the 20 million passengers who travel to the airport by train every year. The industry is developing a passenger handling plan for the duration of the Gatwick Airport station improvement works. In addition to this, the government has taken action, alongside Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), to extend the Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 Southern fare products to be eligible on Gatwick Express services from Brighton.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
[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: 06 February 2020
Department for Transport
Gatwick Express Railway Line: Fares
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on people with disabilities of reducing the price of off-peak Gatwick Express tickets between Brighton and London to the equivalent cost of a Southern ticket during the upgrade work to Gatwick airport railway station, when Southern off-peak services from London Victoria will not run direct; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Chris Heaton-Harris
Answered on: 11 February 2020

The industry is working on developing a passenger handling plan and will prioritise its responsibilities regarding accessibility, making necessary provisions to support the limited number of passengers whose journeys will be affected by the changes. In addition to this, GTR will be extending the Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 Southern fare products to be eligible on Gatwick Express services from Brighton for the duration of the Gatwick Station works

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