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
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Home Office
Human Trafficking: Tourism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions he has had with the (a) hospitality and (b) tourism sectors on training people to detect warning signs of potential victims of human trafficking.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 17 May 2019

The hospitality and tourism sectors have an important role in identifying and preventing modern slavery. Home Office officials regularly engage with businesses and industry bodies and have supported several initiatives to train staff and raise awareness of modern slavery.

The National Crime Agency supported the Shiva foundation to produce a Stop Slavery Blueprint to help hoteliers to identify and prevent modern slavery. http://www.shivafoundation.org.uk/blueprint/#1534166149795-46b5e29a-c1e9

The Home Office has published factsheets and posters on how to protect workers and spot the signs of slavery in the hospitality industry. Factsheets can be found here. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/638774/FACTSHEET_Modern_Slavery_Hospitality_v2_WEB.PDF

Border Force works with airlines, port operators and travel agents to help their staff to spot the signs of modern slavery including developing e-learning which is being used to train thousands of staff and a referral process for airlines to report concerns through the Modern Slavery Helpline.

In May 2018, Border Force led an operation at airports across the UK specifically targeting flights to the Balearic Islands to warn young travellers about the risks of labour exploitation.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Department for Transport
Freight: EU Countries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the merits of the freight connectivity proposals ratified by the European Union for enforcement in a situation where no withdrawal agreement is reached.
A
Answered by: Chris Grayling
Answered on: 17 May 2019

The Government’s preferred outcome remains that the UK should leave the EU in an orderly fashion with a Withdrawal Agreement. In this circumstance, the EU Regulations that cover freight connectivity (in particular the road measure, but also addressed by the aviation regulation in the context of air freight) would not need to come into effect. However, if the UK does leave the EU without having concluded a Withdrawal Agreement then the measure guarantees rights for UK carriers to carry goods to and from the EU until the end of December, which provides welcome certainty for UK carriers and their customers.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Home Office
Crimes of Violence: Retail Trade
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many violent attacks on staff working in retail premises there were in each year since 2015.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 17 May 2019

The Government recognises the damaging impact that violence and abuse can have, not only for victims, but also for businesses, and the wider community. We continue to work closely with retailers, the police and others to tackle these crimes.

Some information is available on the number of assaults and threats made against staff in the Wholesale and retail sector working in premises in England and Wales from the Home Office Commercial Victimisation. Annual estimates are available for each year since 2012 and are published in the ‘Crime against businesses’ tables which can be found here:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/703372/crime-against-businesses-comparison-2017-tables.ods

On 5 April, the Government launched a Call for Evidence on violence and abuse toward shop staff, to further understand the scale of the issue and in-form our response.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Treasury
Beer: Excise Duties
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the effect on (a) total revenue and (b) levels of beer consumption of the decision to freeze beer duty last year.
A
Answered by: Robert Jenrick
Answered on: 16 May 2019

HMRC publishes a tax information and impact note (TIIN) on gov.uk explaining the impact of the policy change, each time alcohol duty rates are amended. The most recent TIIN published at Autumn Budget 2018 can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/increase-in-alcohol-duty-rates/alcohol-duty-uprating.

Statistics on alcohol sales and receipts are available from the UKTradeInfo website: https://www.uktradeinfo.com/Statistics/Pages/TaxAndDutybulletins.aspx

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Home Office
European Arrest Warrants: Northern Ireland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many warrants have been issued under the European Arrest Warrant for prosecution in Northern Ireland by member state of origin in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Mr Nick Hurd
Answered on: 16 May 2019

The Home Office does not hold the information requested.

However, statistics on the European Arrest Warrant are published by the National Crime Agency each year. These figures include a breakdown of the numbers of requests made by the UK.

These figures are published at: http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/european-arrest-warrant-statistics

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pakistan: Minority Groups
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he has discussed with his Pakistani counterpart land grabbing from members of religious minorities in that country.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 16 May 2019

The Government strongly condemns discrimination against minorities, including through seizure of land from minority groups. We are deeply concerned about persecution of religious minorities and restrictions on the freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of advancing the rights of minorities during her telephone call with Imran Khan in August 2018 following his election as Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister during his visit to Pakistan in February 2019.

At the UN Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan in November 2017, the UK pressed Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities.

We recognise the drive by Prime Minister Imran Khan to stop land seizures. We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of minority communities with the Government of Pakistan at senior levels. We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 01 May 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
European Union: Treaties
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, how many of the protocols or joint interpretive instruments annexed to EU treaties to which the UK is party have been the subject of specific parliamentary approval and have legally binding status equivalent to the relevant treaty.
A
Answered by: James Cleverly
Answered on: 15 May 2019

The Protocols and Annexes to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (as amended) “form an integral part thereof” as set out in Article 51 of the TEU i.e. they have the same legal status as the Treaties.

Joint or unilateral interpretative statements annexed to treaties are relevant to the interpretation of those treaties in accordance with article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and have binding legal force where they are accepted by the parties.

When Parliament approved the UK’s accession to the EU it approved accession to all existing EU Treaties as described in part 1 of Schedule 1 to the European Communities Act 1972. Thereafter, Parliament also approved all subsequent Treaties (including protocols or annexes thereto) amending the TEU or the TFEU as described in the definition of “the Treaties” or “the EU Treaties” set out in section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Burundi: Freedom of Expression
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Burundi authorities on violations of fundamental freedoms in that country.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 15 May 2019

Our Ambassador to Burundi, as well as the UK Special Envoy to the Great Lakes regularly make representations with Burundian counterparts and raise fundamental freedoms in Burundi. Recent discussions have taken place at numerous levels including the Foreign Minister and have covered the international NGO suspension, the closure of the UN Human Rights office and the ban of the BBC, on which the Foreign Secretary has expressed disappointment and called for the decision to be reversed.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 09 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Egypt: Religious Freedom
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Egyptian counterpart on the effect of laws restricting the construction of churches on religious freedom.
A
Answered by: Dr Andrew Murrison
Answered on: 15 May 2019

We continue to be concerned about restrictions on the construction of places of worship in Egypt. All religious minorities ought to be able practise their faith without constraints or discrimination. The 2016 Church Building Law represents a step forward in this area, increasing the number of registered churches in Egypt.

We welcome other positive developments concerning religious freedom, including President Sisi's calls for peaceful coexistence and the Government of Egypt's expression of support for the rights of Christians and for religious tolerance. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, reaffirmed our mutual commitment to freedom of religion or belief during his visit to Cairo in November.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 08 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Employment: Parents
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of support available to parents who have to return to work while their premature and sick babies remain in neonatal or intensive care.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 14 May 2019

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently conducted a short, focussed internal review of the provisions for parents of premature, sick and multiple babies for the purpose of providing advice to Minsters.

We are currently exploring a range of policy options for providing further support to parents in this position, recognising that the UK entitlement to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave among the most generous maternity rights in the world.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 01 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Utilities: Older People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions hisw Department has had with the Northern Ireland executive on ensuring the affordability of essential services such as energy and water for older people in Northern Ireland.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 10 May 2019

Energy policy is the responsibility of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

Responsibility for water supply and charging is devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive. No discussions about the issue of affordability of water services for older people in Northern Ireland have therefore taken place.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 01 May 2019
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fisheries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support the fishing industry in (a) Northern Ireland and (b) the rest of the UK.
A
Answered by: Mr Robert Goodwill
Answered on: 09 May 2019

Leaving the EU will mean the UK will become an independent coastal state for the first time in 40 years. The UK will be able to control access to UK waters and secure a fairer share of fishing opportunities, for the benefit of the whole of the UK fishing industry, including Northern Ireland.

Our vision for future fisheries policy is set out in the Fisheries White Paper: Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations. The Fisheries Bill provides the powers necessary to manage our fisheries as an independent coastal state.

On 10 December 2018, the Secretary of State announced £37.2 million of extra funding for the UK seafood sector for projects approved during 2019 and 2020 to boost the industry as we become an independent coastal state. In line with the existing allocation of European Maritime and Fisheries Fund funds, £3.6 million of this additional funding will be allocated to Northern Ireland.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 01 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Malaysia: Human Rights
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Malaysian counterpart on respect for fundamental human rights including freedom of religion in that country.
A
Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 09 May 2019

​The British Government is firmly committed to standing up for human rights around the world, including for freedom of religion or belief. These views are well known in Malaysia, and our longstanding relationship allows us to raise concerns at the highest level with the Malaysian government.

The Foreign Secretary discussed human rights in his meetings with Malaysian ministers during his visit in January 2019, as did I during my visit in October 2018. Our High Commission in Kuala Lumpur has raised the issue of freedom of religion or belief with the Malaysian Foreign Minister and Religious Affairs Minister.

We continue to support the Malaysian Government's ambitions to ratify UN instruments on human rights, reform security legislation and abolish the death penalty. We reiterated these points at Malaysia's Universal Periodic Review at UN Human Rights Council in November 2018.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 24 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Criminal Proceedings
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether an impact assessment was carried out in respect of the removal of the preliminary inquiry stage of court proceedings in serious crime cases in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 03 May 2019

Section 6(1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 originally contained provisions which obliged a magistrates’ court inquiring into an offence as examining justices to commit a defendant charged with an indictable offence to the Crown Court for trial, if, after consideration of the evidence (including oral evidence), it was of the opinion that there was sufficient evidence to put the defendant on trial by jury. If the court was not of that opinion (and the defendant was in custody for no other reason than that offence), it was obliged to discharge the defendant. Pursuant to a recommendation from the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in 1993, the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 amended the committal provisions (with effect from March 1997) to exclude the possibility of oral evidence. The effect was therefore that magistrates' courts could consider only documentary evidence tendered by the prosecution when determining whether there the defendant should be committed for trial. The resulting paper-based committal proceedings were subsequently replaced by the present procedure in May 2013 when section 6 was repealed, with the result that there is no preliminary examination of the evidence in the magistrates’ court and cases are sent to the Crown Court when it appears to the magistrates’ court that the case is more suitable to be tried there. There was no impact assessment.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 24 April 2019
Northern Ireland Office
Higher Education: Northern Ireland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions she has had with officials in Northern Ireland on the criteria for admission into third-level education for students from a disadvantaged background.
A
Answered by: John Penrose
Answered on: 02 May 2019

Education is a devolved area in Northern Ireland and these matters are dealt with by the Higher Education Division at the Department for the Economy. Queries relating to participation in third-level education should be directed towards that department.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 24 April 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Pensioners: Social Security Benefits
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with officials in Northern Ireland on ensuring that older people in difficult financial circumstances are able to access the benefits to which they are entitled.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 02 May 2019

There are regular discussions between officials in the Department for Work and Pensions and their counterparts in the Northern Ireland Department for Communities.

The responsibility for ensuring that older people in Northern Ireland access the benefits to which they are entitled is a matter for the Northern Ireland Department for Communities, so DWP officials have not had specific discussions on this particular subject.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 23 April 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps he is taking to ensure all trafficked, separated and unaccompanied children have an independent guardian to help them access their rights.
A
Answered by: Victoria Atkins
Answered on: 01 May 2019

Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) are an independent source of advice for trafficked children and somebody who can speak up on their behalf.
We have successfully rolled out ICTAs to one third of all local authorities in England and Wales, in line with the commitment we made in July last year. Where the service is available, all children that are potential victims of trafficking are eligible for support.


The Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act led by Frank Field, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Maria Miller has recently considered Section 48 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which makes provisions for ICTAs. The Review’s interim reports can be found

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act#interim-reports

The Government is currently carefully considering the recommendations for ICTAs, and we remain committed to rolling ICTAs out nationally

Unaccompanied children are looked after by the relevant local authority and are entitled to the same services as any other looked after child. Under these arrangements, unaccompanied children will have a professional social worker and an independent reviewing officer to oversee their care arrangements. All unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in England are referred to the Refugee Council’s Children’s Panel and they are also entitled to legal assistance in pursuing their asylum claim. The Government believes that these arrangements ensure unaccompanied children are provided with the independent support and advice that they need.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 23 April 2019
Ministry of Justice
Crime: Victims
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he will take to uphold rights currently afforded to victims in the UK under the EU Victims Rights Directive after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 01 May 2019

In England and Wales, transposition of the EU Victims’ Directive was evidenced through pre-existing legislation and through the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims’ Code), which is issued by the Secretary of State for Justice under section 32 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. The legislation and Victims’ Code exist independently of EU law and as such leaving the EU will not affect the services provided to victims.

We committed in the Victims Strategy, published in September 2018, to amend the Victims’ Code to address its complexity, accessibility and update the entitlements so that they are more reflective of victims’ needs. We intend to consult on these changes shortly.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 24 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Somalia: Civil Liberties
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations have been made to the authorities in Somalia on the protection of (a) the freedoms of association and religion and (b) other fundamental freedoms in that country.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 01 May 2019

​Last year the UK attended the Somalia Partnership Forum where the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) strengthened its commitment to support the protection of human rights. Progress in implementing these commitments, in particular an independent National Human Rights Commission, forms a regular part of our dialogue with the FGS. The UK also provides a range of assistance that directly support human rights in Somalia such as working with Somali Security Forces to help provide protection for all civilians in accordance with international human rights standards.

Ultimately, a stable and inclusive political settlement is the most important aspect to ensure that Somalia is able to protect human rights for all its citizens, and to end impunity for perpetrators of abuse. This is why the UK is playing a leading role in supporting Somalia in working towards an inclusive constitution and to deliver one-person one-vote elections in 2021.

Q
Asked by Nigel Dodds
(Belfast North)
Asked on: 23 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Kenya: British Nationals Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many UK citizens were afforded assistance by his Department following disruption at Nairobi airport in March 2019.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 30 April 2019

​No British nationals requested consular assistance from the British High Commission in Nairobi as a result of the recent disruption at Nairobi Airport.

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