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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Asked on: 07 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last made representations to the government of Iran about the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe; when the Prime Minister last did so directly; whether they have done so since 3 January; and in all such cases, what response they received.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Foreign Secretary raised his concerns about dual national detentions with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif on 6 January. The Prime Minister raised his concerns with Iranian President Rouhani on 9 January. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa called for their release in his call with Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi on 12 January. We remain extremely concerned about the welfare of all British-Iranian dual nationals detained in Iran, including Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. We have made clear to Iran that we expect them to ensure she is treated humanely and in line with international standards. We continue to request immediate consular access.

Asked on: 07 January 2020
Treasury
Quality Assurance of Government Models Review
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made towards implementing the recommendations of the review of quality assurance of government models, published on 5 March 2013.
A
Answered by: The Earl of Courtown
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The recommendations of the 2013 review of quality assurance of government models continue to be used to drive best practice in this area across government.

Individual government departments are primarily responsible for implementing the recommendations of the review. As an example of the type of action being taken in departments, HM Treasury has a working group of senior analysts (“Strength in Numbers”) responsible for promoting and embedding best practice in modelling and quality assurance, adhering closely to the recommendations set out in the 2013 review. To further ensure high standards, the Government Internal Audit Agency conducts an audit of HMT business-critical models every twelve months. Findings and responses to these feed into the HMT Audit Risk Committee, which support the Permanent Secretary in managing risk, control and governance.

Some recommendations are also being addressed on a cross-government basis. Specifically, in response to Recommendation 7 an expert inter-departmental working group was established. In 2015 this working group produced The Aqua Book: guidance on producing quality analysis for government, which is published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-aqua-book-guidance-on-producing-quality-analysis-for-government.

The Working Group has continued to meet approximately monthly with representatives from a number of Departments and Bodies to discuss quality assurance matters, publish quality assurance resources and provide informal advice to members. A number of resources created by Departments in response to the recommendations of the Review have been made available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/aqua-book-resources. These include guidance and research that underpin and complement the Aqua book, QA checklists and templates and other relevant materials and approaches currently used by Departments including the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and the Department for Transport.

Further, the Office for National Statistics has recently established a Modelling Best Practice Unit within its Quality Centre, with the aim of supporting quality assurance in the modelling area across Government; officials from this Centre are members of the previously mentioned Working Group.

Q
Asked by Baroness Quin
Asked on: 07 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent representations they have made about the continuing imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
A
Answered on: 17 January 2020

​The Foreign Secretary raised his concerns about dual national detentions with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif on 6 January. The Prime Minister raised his concerns with Iranian President Rouhani on 9 January. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa called for their release in his call with Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi on 12 January. We remain extremely concerned about the welfare of all British-Iranian dual nationals detained in Iran, including Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. We have made clear to Iran that we expect them to ensure she is treated humanely and in line with international standards. We continue to request immediate consular access.

Q
(Morley and Outwood)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Treasury
Tax Avoidance
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to eliminate the retrospective aspects of the loan charge.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government published Sir Amyas Morse’s independent review of the Loan Charge on 20 December, alongside the Government’s response to his recommendations. The Government welcomes Sir Amyas’s recognition that Disguised Remuneration schemes are a form of tax avoidance and that it was right for the Government to take action to ensure the tax was collected.

Sir Amyas’s careful and considered report examines the question of from when the Loan Charge should apply. He concludes that from 9 December 2010 the law about the tax treatment of loan schemes was clear and that the Loan Charge should apply from this date.

The Government accepts Sir Amyas’s clear view on this point and intends to legislate to implement all but one of the recommendations in the next Finance Bill.

Q
Asked by Robert Largan
(High Peak)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Iran: Nuclear Power
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Iran's recent announcement to cease all commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 17 January 2020

We are deeply concerned by Iran’s recent announcement. As the Prime Minister said on 8 January, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) remains the best way of preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran and we hope it will remain. The Prime Minister made this clear to President Rouhani when they spoke on 9 January, strongly urging Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the deal and to come back into compliance with it.

On 14 January the E3 initiated the JCPoA's Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM). We are committed to using the DRM in good faith to find a viable resolution to Iran’s compliance issues.

The Prime Minister and I have also spoken to European partners in recent days and will continue to do so to find a way forward. We need a deal which everyone respects the terms of, and which takes the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran off the table.

Q
Asked by Henry Smith
(Crawley)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Reindeer: Imports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many (a) reindeer and (b) consignments of reindeer were imported into the UK in 2019; from which countries they were imported; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The information regarding reindeer imports is based on Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) data. This data is provided by third parties.

There have been no recorded imports of reindeer into the United Kingdom from the EU in 2019.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency are not able to provide any data regarding the number of imports from third countries. This is because they are covered by a commodity code in TRACES which does not allow a breakdown by species.

Q
Asked by Henry Smith
(Crawley)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Reindeer: Exports
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many (a) reindeer and (b) consignments of reindeer were exported from the UK in (i) 2018 and (ii) 2019; and to which countries those exports were sent in each year.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The number of reindeer and the number of consignments exported from the UK to the EU in 2018 is as follows:

Country of Destination

Number of Consignments

Number of Reindeer

France

1

2

There were no exports of reindeer to third countries recorded in 2018.

There were no recorded exports of reindeer from the United Kingdom to third countries or EU Member States in 2019.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can access information using Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) for species of animals that require a health certificate for movement to the EU.

APHA does record Export Health Certificates issued for animals to third countries that do not use the TRACES system.

Q
Asked by Joy Morrissey
(Beaconsfield)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Transport
High Speed 2 Railway Line: Costs
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential implications for his policies of the findings in sections 7.6 and 7.7 of the report on HS2 published by Lord Berkeley on 5 January 2020.
A
Answered by: Paul Maynard
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government commissioned Doug Oakervee to provide advice on how and whether to proceed with HS2 and his report will inform our decisions. We will of course give appropriate consideration to Lord Berkeley’s personal views.

Q
(Woking)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beverage Containers: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will support Girlguiding’s work to include young people in the planning and development of the Deposit Return Scheme to combat plastic pollution.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 17 January 2020

In the planning and development of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), we will continue to engage with a large range of stakeholders, including young people and their representative organisations such as Girlguiding UK, to ensure everyone has their say. We have committed to introduce a DRS by 20223 using powers in the forthcoming Environment Bill. There will be an opportunity to engage during the relevant consultation.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Prime Minister
Companies
Commons
To ask the Prime Minister, whether (a) he, (b) his officials or (c) advisors in his Department have had (i) oral and (ii) written communications with (A) Andrew Law, CEO of Caxton Associates, or other representatives of Caxton Associates, (B) Jonathan Wood of SRM Global, or other representatives of SRM Global, (C) representatives of Shore Capital, (D) James Reuben, director at Reuben Brothers Resources Group, (E) other representatives of Reuben Brothers Resources Group, (F) Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal, (G) other representatives of ArcelorMittal, (H) Usha Mittal, former director of ArcelorMittal, (I) representatives of Pelham Capital and (J) representatives of Unatrac in the last six months.
A
Answered by: Boris Johnson
Answered on: 17 January 2020

Details of ministerial meetings with external organisations and individuals are published and can be found on the gov.uk website.

Details of communications by officials and advisers are not collated centrally.

Q
(Brighton, Pavilion)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Home Office
Animal Experiments: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Answer of 9 September 2019 to Question 282282 on Animal Experiments: Licensing, regarding licencing of the forced swim test under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, (a) whether project licences authorising multiple generic projects may include authorisation of the forced swim test and (b) what severity classification, according to definitions of severity described in the Act, is assigned to projects that include the forced swim test as an element of the programme of work.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 17 January 2020

Project licences authorising multiple generic projects under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (as amended) may include authorisation for the forced swim test.

Severity classification is not assigned at project level.

During the harm-benefit analysis the Home Office assigns severity classification to protocols in accordance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (as amended) which is published at:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/14/contents. The classification takes account of the highest severity likely to be experienced by any animal used in the protocol.

The Home Office ensures that animals are only used when necessary and under strict controls which keep suffering to a minimum. Any research which we licence must undergo a thorough harm-benefit analysis including ensuring that the planned work implements the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement).

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Cabinet Office
Elections: Proof of Identity
Commons
To ask Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government's plans to roll-out Voter ID will require (a) primary or (b) secondary legislation.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government will bring forward measures requiring electors to show an approved form of photographic ID before casting their vote in a polling station in a UK parliamentary election in Great Britain and local election in England. Any voter who does not have an approved form of ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for a local electoral identity document.

The Government remains committed to introducing Voter ID ahead of the next scheduled general election. We will bring forward primary legislation enabling the implementation of Voter ID when Parliamentary time allows.

Grouped Questions: 1281
Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Roads: Lighting
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what guidance his Department issues on reducing the level of light pollution from local authority street lighting.
A
Answered by: Esther McVey
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out that local planning policies and decisions should limit the impact of light pollution from artificial light. The Framework is supported by our planning guidance, revised in November last year, which sets out how light pollution should be considered in the planning system.

Local planning authorities must take the Framework into account when preparing their plans, and their policies - including those on light pollution - also need to be taken into account in making individual planning decisions.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Biodiversity: Lighting
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of artificial lighting on biodiversity loss.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 17 January 2020

Defra has published or contributed to a range of assessments of the impact of artificial light on insects and wider biodiversity, as well as global and national assessments of the drivers of biodiversity loss more generally.

Following publication of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s report, ‘Artificial light in the environment’ in 2009, Defra has supported assessments of impacts of artificial light on insects and on other organisms such as bats. These are published on our science website. Defra has also funded or co-funded national and international assessments of drivers of change on insects and wider biodiversity such as the global IPBES Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, which notes effects of light on nocturnal insects may be growing and identifies the need for further study.

There have been a number of externally funded studies which have highlighted potential impacts of artificial light pollution on insects, which Defra keeps under review, for example, with our academic partners on the National Pollinator Strategy for England.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out how the possible ecological impacts of artificial light should be considered in the planning system. It makes clear that policies and decisions should limit the impact of light pollution on local amenity, dark landscapes and nature conservation, including where there may be impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Defra has inputted to associated guidance, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which also draws on evidence from various assessments, including the Royal Commission report.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Cabinet Office
Elections
Commons
To ask Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Written Statement, of 7 January 2020, HLWS17, The Government’s Legislative Programme 2019, whether the Government plans to bring forward an Electoral Integrity Bill in this Parliament.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government will bring forward measures requiring electors to show an approved form of photographic ID before casting their vote in a polling station in a UK parliamentary election in Great Britain and local election in England. Any voter who does not have an approved form of ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for a local electoral identity document.

The Government remains committed to introducing Voter ID ahead of the next scheduled general election. We will bring forward primary legislation enabling the implementation of Voter ID when Parliamentary time allows.

Grouped Questions: 1280
Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Salmon
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to increase salmon stocks throughout England.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 17 January 2020

To increase salmon stocks throughout England, the Environment Agency (EA) recently published a new programme of action in the England and Wales North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) Implementation Plan 2019-2024.

In 2018, 10,328 salmon were caught by net fisheries in England. In 2019 the EA made a number of changes to reduce the exploitation of salmon by closing all major salmon net fisheries around the English coast and introducing mandatory catch and release by anglers on rivers where salmon populations are most at risk. In 2019, no salmon were reported taken by the remaining net fisheries.

The EA have been working with a number of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) to minimise unintentional by-catch by inshore sea fisheries (within six nautical miles). By-catch is when salmon are unintentionally caught by nets aiming to catch other species. New byelaws have been introduced by the Devon and Severn IFCA and Cornwall IFCA that significantly increase in the level of protection for migratory fish.

To safeguard sufficient river flows for salmon, the EA’s Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programme has changed 81 unsustainable abstraction licences on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers preventing damage, or the risk of damage. The remaining 14 licences will be modified by 2020.

The EA has also improved water quality to maximise salmon spawning success and the Water Companies’ National Environment Programme 2016-2021 is scheduled to deliver 42 improvements, 160 investigations, 15 catchment schemes and 10 water resource schemes on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers.

To restore salmon habitat and address barriers to migration, in 2018 on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers 9 weirs/barriers were removed and 8 fish passage easements were delivered, improving access for salmon to 152km of river on the Rivers Ribble, Crake, Kent, Wear, Severn, Tamar, Camel, Fowey, Taw, and Monks Brook (Lower Itchen). Over the last 5 years (2014-18) 57 barriers have been removed or altered, which has improved access to 2,398km of river catchment.

The England and Wales NASCO Implementation Plan 2019-2024 can be found at http://www.nasco.int/pdf/implementation_plans/Cycle3/IP(19)13rev_IP_EU-UK%20(England%20and%20Wales).pdf

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Education
Music: Secondary Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to roll out the Music in Secondary School Trust initiative throughout state schools in England.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government believes that music is an important subject and that all pupils should receive a high-quality music education. The subject is compulsory in the national curriculum up to age 14 and the Government is providing funding of over £300 million for music education hubs between 2016 and 2020. We recently announced a further year’s funding for music hubs, to help thousands more children learn to play musical instruments, as well as continued support for a range of smaller music and arts programmes, totalling £85 million.

Music education hubs have done excellent work to ensure there is more equitable access to music education. We are aware of the work of the Music in Secondary Schools Trust and thank them for their commitment to music education. My officials and I would welcome a meeting with officials from the Trust to discuss their work further.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Cabinet Office
Elections: Public Consultation
Commons
To ask Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to issue the public consultation on electoral integrity.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government remains committed to ensuring elections are secure and fit for the modern age, and further detail will be announced in the coming months.

Q
Asked by Adam Afriyie
(Windsor)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Flood Control: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to allocate funding from the public purse to flood defences after 2021.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government is investing a record £2.6 billion from 2015-2021 to better protect 300,000 homes in England from flooding, and £1bn to maintain existing defences. Since 2015 some 600 new schemes are already providing better protection to over 200,000 homes across the country. The level of funding for flood defences beyond 2021 will be decided as part of a future Budget settlement, and will be informed by a range of evidence and forecasts, including the Environment Agency’s Long Term Investment Scenarios report.

Grouped Questions: 1323
Q
Asked by Adam Afriyie
(Windsor)
Asked on: 08 January 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Coastal Erosion and Flood Control: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans she has to implement the recommendation in the report by the Environment Agency entitled, Long-term investment scenarios 2019, that flood and coastal erosion risk management in the UK will require an average annual investment of £1 billion until 2065.
A
Answered by: Rebecca Pow
Answered on: 17 January 2020

The Government is investing a record £2.6 billion from 2015-2021 to better protect 300,000 homes in England from flooding, and £1bn to maintain existing defences. Since 2015 some 600 new schemes are already providing better protection to over 200,000 homes across the country. The level of funding for flood defences beyond 2021 will be decided as part of a future Budget settlement, and will be informed by a range of evidence and forecasts, including the Environment Agency’s Long Term Investment Scenarios report.

Grouped Questions: 1322
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