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 on: 07 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential effect of the counter-sanctions law, signed by the President of the Russian Federation on 4 June, on (1) UK–Russia relations, (2) UK–Russia trade, (3) UK investors in Russia, and (4) Russian investors in the UK.
A
Answered on: 19 June 2018

We have noted that President Putin signed the draft law on 4 June. It remains to be seen how the new law will be applied. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this new legislation closely, including any potential implications for UK companies.

Q
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicaragua: Peace Negotiations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the peace process in Nicaragua; and what assessment they have made of the role of the (1) Catholic Church, (2) Organization of American States, and (3) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2018

The UK remains deeply concerned by the situation in Nicaragua.

We welcome the role the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua has played in convening the national dialogue and urge the Church to continue its efforts to resolve the current crisis.

The dialogue needs to address both the issue of justice for victims of repression and human rights abuses, and the need for electoral reform. We welcomed the agreement between the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Nicaraguan Government to establish an international Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, in Spanish) to investigate human rights abuses. The GIEI must be allowed to work freely to ensure all those responsible for human rights abuses and acts of repression are held to account.

Q
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicaragua: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of instability in Nicaragua.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2018

The UK remains deeply concerned by the situation in Nicaragua. Our Embassy in Costa Rica, which is accredited to Nicaragua, has been following developments closely. The Nicaraguan Government must take responsibility for ending the violence and protecting human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. These are the essential conditions for the inclusive national dialogue to resume.

We have been clear with the Nicaraguan Government on these points, both in a public statement from the British Ambassador to Nicaragua on 5 June and in meetings between the Head of Latin America Department and the Presidential Advisor on International Relations on 29 May and 5 June.

Q
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicaragua: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether there may be regional instability as a result of current disturbances in Nicaragua.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2018

​The current situation in Nicaragua is a national issue. We do not anticipate a wider regional impact.

Q
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nicaragua: Peace Negotiations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the timetable for the peace process in Nicaragua proposed by the Organization of American States.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2018

The Organization of American States (OAS) timetable for electoral reform is a positive development and we encourage the Nicaraguan Government to continue engaging with the OAS to deliver on all its recommendations from the November 2017 electoral observation mission report.

However, for meaningful electoral reform to succeed the Government must end the current violence and the dialogue should resume under peaceful conditions.

Q
Asked on: 05 June 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
USA: Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of the United States regarding the impact of secondary sanctions and whether such sanctions are designed to give a long term benefit to US companies.
A
Answered on: 18 June 2018

The United States has a range of secondary sanctions in place. The British Government maintains a close dialogue with companies and financial institutions on sanctions and engages with the government of the United States on specific technical areas, including on secondary sanctions, where appropriate.

Q
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 14 May (HL7540), whether spouses of EU citizens from countries outside the EU will be included in the right to free movement in the UK; and if not, how they reconcile the statement that "family members will be able to join EU citizens on current EU law terms" with EU law determining that those spouses may have access to the applicable EU state.
Q
Asked on: 22 May 2018
Treasury
Financial Markets: Corruption
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the use of the UK’s financial markets for corrupt transactions by overseas investors; and what steps they are taking to combat such practices.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 06 June 2018

The UK’s openness and status as a global financial centre exposes it to the risk of illicit financial flows.

The UK’s National Risk Assessment 2017 assessed that retail banking, wholesale banking, capital markets and wealth management are all exposed to high money laundering risks. This assessment can be viewed online.

This government is committed to ensuring the UK’s financial system is hostile to illicit finance, and is taking action to protect the integrity of the UK financial system.

This includes introducing the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to enhance law enforcement’s powers to investigate and tackle financial crime, and comprehensively updating the Money Laundering Regulations to bring them in line with the latest international standards.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which supervises financial institutions conducts regular, detailed AML inspections of the major retail and investment banks operating in the UK. Where financial institutions fall short of their legal and regulatory obligations, the FCA has taken tough action.

Q
Asked on: 21 May 2018
Home Office
UK Border Force: Right of Search
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (1) customs officials, or (2) border officials, have the authority to request or oblige an incoming passenger to hand over any password to unlock their smart phone; and if so, on how many occasions in the past 12 months this has occurred at each principal gateway into the UK.
Answered on: 04 June 2018

Border Force Officers can exercise either immigration or customs powers depending on their appointment as an Immigration Officer or a Designated Customs Official.

When exercising immigration powers, a Border Force Officer may only search a person until it is satisfactorily established that the person is a British Citizen, may enter the United Kingdom without leave or has leave to enter the United Kingdom. The Immigration Officer may search for any documents relevant to their examination of the individual. It is possible that such documents could be contained on a mobile phone. Failure to submit to a search may result in the person being refused leave to enter, or could constitute an offence under section 26(1)(b) of the Immigration Act 1971, and / or could lead to the mobile phone being seized under paragraph 15A(7) of Schedule 2 to that Act.

The Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 permits Border Force customs officers to question passengers regarding their baggage and anything carried with them, and to produce baggage for examination to ensure the payment of duties, to prevent the importation of prohibited items, or to search persons where there are reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying prohibited or restricted goods or goods on which duty has not been paid. As part of this examination, they may request access to electronic equipment.

Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 empowers Border Force immigration and customs officers in England and Wales to arrest persons who are committing an offence or who they have reasonable grounds to suspect are about to commit an offence. Section 32 permits them to search persons who have been arrested. Section 19 empowers officers to seize items that are evidence in relation to an offence.

Under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 a person must give an examining officer any information that the officer requests to establish whether the person is concerned in terrorist related activity. If a person fails to comply they can be prosecuted for wilful obstruction. While it is possible for designated Border Force Officers to be accredited to exercise Schedule 7 powers, in practice it is exercised at port by Police Officers.

We do not hold information on how many times this has occurred in the past 12 months.

Q
Asked on: 17 May 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Diplomatic Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK ambassador to Russia attended the recent swearing-in ceremony of President Putin; and if not, which extenuating circumstances prevented him from doing so.
A
Answered on: 01 June 2018

Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Russian Federation attended the inauguration of President Putin on 7 May.

Q
Asked on: 16 May 2018
Treasury
Taxation: Domicil
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to continue to adhere to the OECD residency criteria for tax purposes post-Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 24 May 2018

The UK will continue to adhere to the OECD’s tax standards after Brexit. These include the provisions relating to residence in the OECD model treaty that the UK uses as the basis for bilateral double taxation agreements.

Q
Asked on: 27 April 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Russia: Electronic Warfare
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 5 March (HL5692), whether they have responded to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s proposal for bilateral interdepartmental consultations on international information security; if so, what that response was; and if not, when they intend to give a response.
A
Answered on: 14 May 2018

In her address to Parliament on 14 March 2018, the Prime Minister made clear that high level bilateral contact with Russia was suspended as a result of the Salisbury incident. This includes the bilateral consultations on international information security proposed by the Russian government. We will continue to discuss cyber security in multilateral fora with Russia, where appropriate.

Q
Asked on: 02 May 2018
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of (1) married couples, and (2) civil partners, that might be separated as a result of Brexit.
Answered on: 14 May 2018

The agreement we have reached with the EU on citizens’ rights protects those EU citizens and their family members, including spouses and civil partners, exercising free movement rights in the UK before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020.

During the implementation period, family members will be able to join EU citizens on current EU law terms. After the implementation period, close family members will be able to join an EU citizen covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, where their relationship existed before 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when they wish to join the EU citizen in the UK. Close family members includes spouses, civil partners and durable partners.

Q
Asked on: 08 May 2018
Department for Exiting the European Union
Brexit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure both Houses of Parliament are able to scrutinise fully any implementation period following Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 14 May 2018

The degree of scrutiny Parliament wishes to give to ongoing EU business is of course a matter for Parliament. It will be for both Houses to determine the level of scrutiny they will want to undertake during the implementation period, on the basis of the detailed arrangements for the period agreed between the UK and the EU.

The Government supports a strong scrutiny process, and will continue to support and facilitate this for as long as EU legislation will continue to affect the UK. We are happy to engage in dialogue with the relevant committees as to how this may best be achieved.

Q
Asked on: 26 April 2018
Cabinet Office
National Security
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps have been taken to date to improve coordination across Government departments through the Fusion Doctrine; and in which departments and under which co-ordinating ministers is the work being done to ensure that the UK has the relevant staff and private sector engagement to prevent and respond to hybrid threats.
A
Answered by: The Earl of Courtown
Answered on: 11 May 2018

The new national security doctrine, the Fusion Doctrine, builds on the creation and early years of the National Security Council (NSC), embeds the lessons from the Chilcot report and supports a whole-of-government approach to national security.

All NSC and NSC(Officials) meetings now use the Fusion Doctrine framework as a guide for the discussions. It is the responsibility of designated Senior Responsible Officials (SRO) to implement the Government’s strategy and coordinate across the whole of government.

Protecting the UK from hybrid threats is a whole-of-government effort. A range of Government departments (including the Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence), working with the relevant parts of the private sector prepare for, prevent and respond to hybrid threats. The Government’s overall approach is overseen by the NSC and through sub-committees such as the NSC for Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingencies.

Q
Asked on: 26 April 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Cybercrime
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to modernise the legal environment to enhance the resilience of UK private sector organisations to defend themselves and their clients against cyber threats.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 11 May 2018

The forthcoming Data Protection Bill will require all organisations to have appropriate technical and organisational cyber security measures in place to protect personal data. In addition, for critical services and digital service providers, the Government is transposing the Network and Information Systems Directive into UK Law which requires relevant digital service providers to take appropriate and proportionate measures to secure their network and information systems from both cyber attacks and physical failures. In addition, as committed to in its Cyber Regulation and Incentives review published in 2016, the Government continues to monitor the wider cyber security regulatory landscape to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

Q
Asked on: 26 April 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Electronic Warfare
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 5 March (HL5690), whether they consider the National Cyber Security Centre guidance stated is sufficient to ensure that all sectors of industry and the general public are sufficiently protected against a hybrid threat; and if not, what additional guidance is planned.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 11 May 2018

The National Cyber Security Centre is focussed on the cyber security threat but works closely with its partners, CPNI and MOD, to ensure that the UK is protected against the hybrid threat. The NCSC seeks to provide actionable and accessible guidance and it also works closely with a range of key UK organisations to understand their systems, provide bespoke advice and ensure that cybersecurity is considered as part of new programmes and systems. The NCSC has also been strengthening the UK’s cyber defences through the Active Cyber Defence programme.

It is the responsibility of all organisations to ensure they are sufficiently cyber secure and, while the threat of cyber attacks cannot be eliminated completely, organisations can and should reduce the risks by acting on NCSC issued guidance on how best to defend against cyber attacks. This guidance is widely available to all and updated regularly.

Q
Asked on: 26 April 2018
Cabinet Office
Intelligence Services: Recruitment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 13 April (HL6781), how many of the “over 1,900 additional security and intelligence staff” stated in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 have been successfully recruited and trained and remain in the relevant organisations.
A
Answered by: Baroness Stedman-Scott
Answered on: 10 May 2018

For reasons of national security, It has been the policy of successive Government not to go into detail regarding the ongoing recruitment, training and retention profile of security and intelligence staff. However, progress against each of the commitments made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 is closely monitored, and reported annually to Parliament. The Second Annual Report, included in the National Security and Capability Review, was published in March 2018 attached. The Second Annual Report set out that we remain on track to meet this commitment.

National Security Capability Review (PDF Document, 2.73 MB)
Q
Asked on: 26 April 2018
Cabinet Office
National Security
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 11 and 13 April (HL6782 and HL6848), how the Fusion Doctrine from the 2018 National Security Capability Review is now being used to “improve our collective approach to national security”; and how many new reservists or other resources to deal with hybrid threats, based on the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, have been recruited and trained.
A
Answered by: Baroness Stedman-Scott
Answered on: 10 May 2018

The Fusion Doctrine acts as a framework for our National Security Strategy so that we can identify the most effective and efficient combination of methods to achieve the Government’s objectives. The doctrine will ensure that in defending our national security we make better use of all of our capabilities: from economic levers; through cutting-edge military resources; to our wider diplomatic and cultural influence on the world’s stage.

Our response to the Salisbury attack is an example of the Fusion Doctrine in practice. We are deploying the full range of our National Security capabilities to counter the threats of hostile activity wherever it may come from.

The 2018 National Security Capability Review (NSCR) makes clear the Government’s commitment to addressing a complex and evolving threat picture to safeguard national security. The UK Volunteer Reserve Forces trained strength continues to grow, totalling 32,240 (as of January 2018). Both reservists and regulars contribute manpower and specialisms to two innovative Brigades which were established in direct response to hybrid threats as identified in the SDSR 2015, these units provide specialist capabilities in strategic communications, cyber and intelligence.

The two Brigades are:

· 77 Brigade which is comprised of approximately 200 Regular and 270 Reserve Service Personnel;

· 1 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Brigade comprised of approximately 2,800 Regulars and around 2,100 Reservists.

Q
Asked on: 26 April 2018
Cabinet Office
National Security
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 13 April (HL6849), whether they consider they have sufficient financial resources to pre-empt and address a hybrid threat, with the knowledge that government departments are already prioritising their budgets to mitigate risks and in the light of the end of the £1.9 billion commitment to improve cyber resilience in the current funding round.
A
Answered by: Baroness Stedman-Scott
Answered on: 10 May 2018

The National Cyber Security Strategy clearly outlines how the Government is developing defences against the cyber threat we face. We are investing £1.9 billion through the National Cyber Security Programme and have opened a new National Cyber Security Centre that is activity working with international partners, industry and civil society to tackle this threat. The activities of the NCSP are aligned with robust physical and personnel security measures to guard against hybrid attacks.

We are working across government to ensure that effective defence against cyber and hybrid attacks remains a key priority for all departments up to and beyond March 2021.

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