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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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
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 16 July 2019
Department for Transport
Northern: Rolling Stock
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 12 July (HL16845), what assessment they have made of the legal implications of Pacer trains remaining in use on the Northern Rail network after 31 December; and what plans they have in place to ensure that any trains still in use after that date comply with regulations concerning accessibility and the discharge of toilet waste onto tracks.
Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Department for Transport
Northern: Rolling Stock
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government why it will not be possible to complete the removal of Pacer trains from the Northern rail network by 31 December.
A
Answered on: 12 July 2019

Northern Rail is planning to remove the first pacer in August, and is working to remove all of the pacers by the end of the year. Due to delays in manufacturing of new trains, a small number of pacers may continue on the network into the beginning of the new year to ensure a stable service for passengers.

Our absolute priority is ensuring passengers in the north benefit from new trains, more services and increased capacity as quickly as possible. People across the north are starting to see new trains across the network, alongside the extra 2000 services a week already delivered.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Department for International Trade
Arms Trade: Bahrain
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have suspended the issuance of new export licences for the sale of arms to Bahrain.
Answered on: 11 July 2019

The Government is carefully considering the implications of the Court of Appeal judgment of 20 June for decision making. While we do this, we will not grant any new licences for exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners (UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt) for possible use in the conflict in Yemen. We disagree with the judgment and are seeking permission to appeal.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Sentencing
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for the Middle East on 18 June (HC264373), whether the training provided by the UK to a delegation from the government of Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior on alternative sentencing was delivered as part of their technical assistance programme to that country; and on which dates that training was delivered.
A
Answered on: 11 July 2019

No training on alternative sentencing was provided to the delegation from the Ministry of Interior when they conducted a study visit to the UK on the 14-15 March. The study visit was a part of the technical assistance that the UK is providing the Government of Bahrain.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 27 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Technical Assistance
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their decision to suspend the issuance of new export licences for the sale of arms to Bahrain, whether they intend to impose a similar moratorium on the technical assistance programme to Bahrain in view of reports of human rights abuses in that country.
A
Answered on: 10 July 2019

Following the Court of Appeal judgement in a Judicial Review into the Government’s decision-making process for granting export licences to Saudi Arabia, Her Majesty's Government will not be issuing new licenses to Saudi Arabia and its Coalition partners for the sale of arms destined for use in the conflict in Yemen. The Government is currently considering the implications of the Review. The judicial review judgement is not about whether the Government has made the right decisions in granting export licences but concerns the rationality of the process used to reach those decisions.

Under the UK technical assistance programme within the Integrated Activity Fund, each project goes through a rigorous compliance process before commencement. All projects are regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure that the training provided by or on behalf of the British Government complies with our domestic and international human rights obligations.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
100,000 Genomes Project
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether those who have taken part in the NHS 100,000 Genome Project are being denied access to their own genome data; and if so, why.
Answered on: 10 July 2019

Genomics England is committed to returning results to every patient in the 100,000 Genomes Project via their National Health Service clinical team. All of the patient results will have been returned to the NHS by the end of the year.

Under the Data Protection Legislation, participants in the 100,000 Genomes Project can request their genomic and clinical data. However, a whole genome sequence is around 3 billion letters long and written in code so it is very difficult to interpret. Genomics England can provide access to a visual representation on request or provide access to the raw data. A NHS clinical team is the best route to providing a clinical interpretation of the genome results.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Freedom of Expression
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 24 June (HL16330), what further representations they will make to the government of Bahrain about protecting freedom of expression for all Bahrainis in line with its international obligations; and what specific representations they have made to that government after it threatened Bahrainis with legal action if they follow anti-government social media accounts.
A
Answered on: 09 July 2019

​We have a close relationship with Bahrain which allows us to have constructive and frank discussions where we have concerns, including on freedom of expression. We continue to encourage the Government of Bahrain to protect freedom of expression for all of its citizens, in line with its international obligations. The UK supports freedom of expression and freedom of speech as both a fundamental right in itself and as an essential element of a full range of human rights.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 25 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the Court of Appeal ruling that the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was unlawful and reports that training for the Saudi Arabian military was financed by the Integrated Activity Fund, what assessment they have made of projects financed by that fund.
A
Answered on: 08 July 2019

​All project work in Saudi Arabia is kept under regular review both in-country and by relevant departments in London.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 08 July 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Military Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 8 July (HL16673), whether they have assessed training provided to the Saudi Arabian military financed by the Integrated Activity Fund since the Court of Appeal ruling that the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was unlawful.
Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nabeel Rajab
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of a Bahraini court’s decision to reject the application for alternative sentencing of the human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, given the concern expressed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2018 report on human rights and democracy for Mr Rajab’s sentencing to five years’ imprisonment.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our Embassy in Manama has closely monitored the trials of Mr Rajab. Officials from our Embassy regularly attended Mr Rajab's court hearings. We are not aware of Mr Rajab’s application, and subsequent rejection, for alternative sentencing. The decision making process of the application of alternative sentencing is subject to meeting qualifying conditions and remains the responsibility of the Bahrain judicial system. We continue to urge the Government of Bahrain to protect freedom of expression for all its citizens in line with its international commitments. We have raised the case at senior levels as part of the UK's ongoing open dialogue with Bahrain. British officials will continue to monitor the case closely

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what basis their Human Rights and Democracy report, published on 5 June, “welcomed continuing progress in and commitment to the democratic process” in Bahrain following its elections in November 2018; and what account that report took of (1) the government of Bahrain's ban on all political opposition from electoral participation in, and (2) condemnation by the United States Congress and the parliaments of the UK, the EU, Ireland and Italy, of those elections.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

Bahrain held parliamentary elections for the fifth time in November. The British Government takes note of a number of information sources on Bahrain and we continue to encourage Bahrain to ensure all elections are fair, transparent and inclusive.​

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gulf States: Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 June (HL16049), whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will continue the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund beyond the 2019–20 financial year; and if so, what the allocated budget will be for the 2020–21 financial year.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Integrated Activity Fund (IAF) was established in 2016 with a four-year lifecycle ending in March 2020. A bid for funds to continue the IAF beyond this date is under consideration.​

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Yemen: Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 June (HL16049), whether Yemen was (1) considered as part of the original Gulf Strategy, and (2) a recipient of funding from the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund in 2015; and if not, on which date, and on what basis, they decided to include Yemen in the budget for the 2019–20 financial year.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

I refer the Noble Lord to the corrected answer to question HL16049.​

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 17 June (HL16051 and HL16050), what they estimate of the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund’s budget allocated to Bahrain (1) was in the 2018–19 financial year, and (2) is in the 2019–20 financial year.
A
Answered on: 04 July 2019

The Integrated Activity Fund funded activity in all six Gulf Cooperation Council states: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Many of the projects and programme activities were delivered regionally, so it is not possible to provide a breakdown by beneficiary state.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 20 June 2019
Ministry of Defence
Bahrain: Military Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 4 June (HL15900), whether the British Armed Forces have provided training to the Royal Guard of Bahrain at any time over the past three years; if so, on what dates the training was delivered; and what was the purpose of any such training.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 28 June 2019

The British Armed Forces provided the Bahrain Royal Guard with physical training instruction in 2018, and close protection and military annual training tests (medical and basic life support) training in 2019.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Home Office
Asylum: LGBT People
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their introduction of a new asylum casework database will improve the capturing and recording of the details of LGBTQI+ people who (1) claim asylum, and (2) are held in detention; and if so, how.
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The new Atlas case working system remains in development. It is therefore not possible to confirm at this time exactly what data it will record. Atlas is intended to improve how cases are recorded, managed and reported. This includes building on current reporting fields for LGBTQI+ people claiming asylum or being held in detention.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 04 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gulf States: Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the allocated budget for the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund for the 2019/20 financial year; and which countries will receive support from that Fund.
A
Corrected answer by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Corrected on: 25 June 2019
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 18 June 2019.
The correct answer should have been:

The allocated budget for the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund (IAF) for the 2019/20 financial year is £20m. The IAF will fund activity in all seven six Gulf Cooperation Council States including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. and Yemen.

A
Answered on: 18 June 2019

The allocated budget for the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund (IAF) for the 2019/20 financial year is £20m. The IAF will fund activity in all seven six Gulf Cooperation Council States including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. and Yemen.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 12 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the government of Bahrain warning citizens in Bahrain of legal consequences if they follow anti-government social media accounts, and of the impact of such a warning on the freedoms and rights of the citizens of Bahrain.
A
Answered on: 24 June 2019

We continue to encourage the Government of Bahrain to protect freedom of expression for all of its citizens, in line with its international obligations. The UK supports freedom of expression and freedom of speech as both a fundamental right in itself and as an essential element of a full range of human rights.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Personal Independence Payment: Appeals
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current mean waiting time for Personal Independence Payment appeals; how that differs from the mean waiting time for the previous year; and, if the mean waiting time has risen compared to the previous year, what are the reasons for that rise.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 20 June 2019

The information requested is set out in the table below:

Current and comparative mean waiting times1 for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeals

October – December 182

31 weeks

October – December 17

25 weeks

1. Waiting time is interpreted as average clearance time - time taken from appeal receipt to outcome.

2. The latest period for which data are available

The volume of appeals against decisions on PIP has built up since it was introduced as a new benefit, incrementally over time, from 2013. As the number of appeals has increased, so has the average waiting time for an appeal outcome.

Waiting times are calculated from receipt of an appeal to its final disposal. An appeal is not necessarily disposed of at its first hearing. The final disposal decision on the appeal may be reached after an earlier hearing had been adjourned (which may be directed by the judge for a variety of reasons, such as to seek further evidence), or after an earlier hearing date had been postponed (again, for a variety of reasons, often at the request of the appellant). An appeal may also have been decided at an earlier date by the First-tier Tribunal, only for the case to have gone on to the Upper Tribunal, to be returned once again to the First-tier, for its final disposal.

Waiting times can fluctuate temporarily and geographically, owing to a number of variable factors, including volumes of benefit decisions made locally, availability of medical/disability members, venue capacity and the complexity of the issue in dispute. Any disparity in waiting times is monitored and investigated locally.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 04 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Gulf States: Overseas Aid
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the overall spend on the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund in the 2018/19 financial year; which countries received support from that Fund; and how much each such state received in that period.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2019

​Overall spend from the Gulf Integrated Activity Fund in 2018/19 financial year was £17.08m. This is subject to final departmental audits. Many of the projects and programme activities are delivered regionally, so it is not possible to provide a breakdown by beneficiary state.

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