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 Baroness Cox
Asked on: 04 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Chemical Weapons
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the authenticity of the report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Engineering Assessment of Two Cylinders at the Douma Incident, dated 27 February, and (2) any differences of that report with the final report of the OPCW regarding the incident of alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma on 7 April 2018, which found that there was evidence consistent with the hypothesis that chlorine cannisters had been dropped from aircraft.
A
Answered on: 17 June 2019

​We welcomed the Fact Finding Mission’s (FFM) final report of March which drew a clear conclusion of reasonable grounds to believe a toxic chemical, likely molecular chlorine, was used as a weapon. On 28 May the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon Director General confirmed all evidence and views were considered in preparing the FFM report. The Technical Secretariat stands by the findings and we continue to have confidence in both our own and the FFM’s conclusions about this attack.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 04 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Islamic State
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is part of the purpose of the Global Coalition Against Daesh to uphold United States sanctions on Syria.
A
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The purpose of the Global Coalition is to degrade and defeat Daesh. As part of this work, the Global Coalition is engaged in a comprehensive campaign to disrupt and prevent Daesh from raising, moving and using funds. Enforcing bilateral sanctions on Syria is not part of the Coalition's mandate.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 05 June 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the military leadership in Sudan for the release of Yasir Arman; and whether they have sought information on the number of peaceful protestors who have been detained in that country.
A
Answered on: 17 June 2019

The British Government condemns the arrest and detention of Yasir Arman by the Sudanese security forces. We call for his immediate release and for the legitimate demands of Sudanese people to be respected. Violence must not be used, including against opponents. We consistently made clear to the former Government of Sudan our expectation that all detainees should be treated in accordance with international standards; we continue to call upon the Sudanese authorities to do so. Our Ambassador in Khartoum made clear to the Deputy Head of the Transitional Military Committee, on 15 April, the steps that needed to be taken to improve the situation in Sudan, including the release of all political detainees. We also engage regularly with civil society groups on the issue of detainee treatment

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 04 June 2019
Ministry of Defence
Syria: Islamic State
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the Global Coalition Against Daesh carried out airstrikes on ferries owned by the government of Syria transporting oil near al-Shuhail; why any such attack was carried out; and whether any such attack is part of the strategic aims of that Coalition.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 13 June 2019

We have seen no evidence that the Coalition has conducted any airstrikes on ferries owned by the government of Syria transporting oil near al-Shuhail.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 13 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Boko Haram
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about reports of recent attacks by Boko Haram in Molai, Borno State.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

We are concerned about reports of continuing attacks by insurgents in Borno State. We continue to urge the Nigerian Government to develop a clear strategy to tackle the conflict. The Foreign Secretary met the Nigerian Vice President during his visit in April to discuss long-term solutions to improve security, increase livelihoods and provide opportunities in the region. We will continue to look at how best to support the Nigerian Government in tackling the threat of terrorism, along with options for how the UK could further support dialogue and peacebuilding efforts.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 02 May 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Religion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 4 April (HL14728), what were the findings of their investigation into reports which indicated that some asylum decisions were not drafted in accordance with Home Office policy guidance on how asylum decision-makers are expected to approach religious-based claims.
Answered on: 16 May 2019

After reports indicated that an asylum decision was not drafted in accordance with Home Office policy guidance, Asylum Operations conducted an investigation into this matter. A small number of religious conversion cases were sampled and no further cases were identified during this sampling exercise.


All such decisions are currently subject to further scrutiny, pending the roll out of additional specialist training, which has been developed in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief.


The Asylum Learning and Development Team started to deliver the specialist training package on religious claims on Monday 8 April, which will be mandatory for all asylum decision-makers.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Burundi: Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of financial sanctions relating to Burundi.
A
Answered on: 15 May 2019

The EU adopted restrictive measures, including the use of sanctions, against Burundi on 1 October 2015 following violence during the Presidential elections in 2015. These measures are a means of holding the perpetrators of human rights violations to account and encouraging both positive change in relation to political freedoms and inclusive political dialogue ahead of elections in 2020. Working with our international partners, the UK designs sanctions regimes, provides evidence for designations, and encourages cooperation to ensure that sanctions are used to achieve shared political goals, and that sanctions are properly implemented and enforced to secure maximum impact. The Office for Financial Sanctions implementation works to ensure that financial sanctions are properly understood, implemented and enforced in the UK.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Burundi: Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with other EU member states on the (1) imposition, and (2) maintenance of, sanctions against named individuals in Burundi.
A
Answered on: 15 May 2019

The EU Heads of Mission last met in Brussels in November 2018 to discuss the EU's approach to Burundi. However, EU Burundi sanctions will be formally reviewed later this year.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 07 May 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Burundi: Sanctions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to continue financial sanctions on named individuals in Burundi after the UK has exited the EU.
A
Answered on: 15 May 2019

​It is our intention to continue to deliver the same policy effect as existing EU sanctions after the UK has left the EU, including asset freezes imposed on named individuals under the current EU Burundi sanctions regime.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 25 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Violence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about reports of ongoing attacks by Muslim Fulani herders on Christian communities in the northern and central-belt states.
A
Answered on: 08 May 2019

We are concerned about growing levels of intercommunal violence between farming and herder communities in Nigeria, and regularly raise these concerns the Nigerian Government at the highest levels. The Foreign Secretary met with Nigerian faith leaders, both Muslim and Christian during his recent visit to Nigeria, to discuss how the UK can support their work to promote interfaith relationships and long-term peace. Our assessment is that religious identity is a factor but the root causes are highly complex and include disputes over land, farming rights, the impact of climate change, grazing routes and access to water. Our High Commission in Abuja is engaging closely with international partners, the Nigerian Government, state governments and the National Economic Council to develop measures, which address the underlying causes of the conflict, including the recently-announced bi-partisan National Livestock Transformation Plan.

Grouped Questions: HL15342
Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 25 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Violence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Islamist dimension to Fulani attacks against Christians in northern and central Nigeria.
A
Answered on: 08 May 2019

We are concerned about growing levels of intercommunal violence between farming and herder communities in Nigeria, and regularly raise these concerns the Nigerian Government at the highest levels. The Foreign Secretary met with Nigerian faith leaders, both Muslim and Christian during his recent visit to Nigeria, to discuss how the UK can support their work to promote interfaith relationships and long-term peace. Our assessment is that religious identity is a factor but the root causes are highly complex and include disputes over land, farming rights, the impact of climate change, grazing routes and access to water. Our High Commission in Abuja is engaging closely with international partners, the Nigerian Government, state governments and the National Economic Council to develop measures, which address the underlying causes of the conflict, including the recently-announced bi-partisan National Livestock Transformation Plan.

Grouped Questions: HL15341
Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 25 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nigeria: Violence
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether representatives from the UK High Commission in Abuja have visited Christian farming communities in northern and central Nigeria attacked by Muslim Fulani herders; and if so, what were their findings.
A
Answered on: 08 May 2019

Officials from the British High Commission in Abuja frequently visit states across Nigeria and engage with communities of all faiths. A High Commission team including officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London recently visited Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Benue and Taraba States to assess the situation on the ground. The findings reinforced our assessment of the complexity of these conflicts, which can be found in disputes over land, farming rights, the impact of climate change, grazing routes and access to water. We continue to urge the Nigerian Government to develop a clear strategy to address the underlying causes, as well as developing options for how the UK could further support dialogue and peacebuilding efforts. The Foreign Secretary met with Nigerian faith leaders, both Muslim and Christian during his recent visit to Nigeria, to discuss how the UK can support their work to promote interfaith relationships and long-term peace.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 25 January 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Demonstrations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Sudan regarding the arrest of civilians participating in recent peaceful demonstrations.
A
Answered on: 08 February 2018

Our Ambassador in Khartoum and the UK Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan raised concerns about the Government of Sudan's response to recent protests in a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on 21 January.

We will continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that it is crucial that the Sudanese people are allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression. We urge those exercising their fundamental rights to express their opinions peacefully.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the Sudanese Armed and Air Forces have increased their military presence in South Kordofan since January.
A
Answered on: 16 April 2019

We are aware of reports of the Sudanese Armed Forces being redeployed outside of the Safe Demilitarised Buffer zone in the border area of Sudan and South Sudan since October 2018 and are monitoring the situation. We continue to press all sides involved in the longstanding conflict in the Nuba Mountains – both government and rebel groups – to engage positively to reach an agreement for a lasting peace. We raised this frequently with the Sudanese authorities and will continue to do so. Human rights and conflict resolution remain key priorities for our engagement in Sudan.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 08 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces have been deployed to the Nuba Mountains; and what steps they have taken, if any, to ensure citizens of the Nuba Mountains are protected from violent conflict and human rights abuses.
A
Answered on: 16 April 2019

We are aware of reports of the Sudanese Armed Forces being redeployed outside of the Safe Demilitarised Buffer zone in the border area of Sudan and South Sudan since October 2018 and are monitoring the situation. We continue to press all sides involved in the longstanding conflict in the Nuba Mountains – both government and rebel groups – to engage positively to reach an agreement for a lasting peace. We raised this frequently with the Sudanese authorities and will continue to do so. Human rights and conflict resolution remain key priorities for our engagement in Sudan.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 25 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Radovan Karadžić
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the longer sentence given to Radovan Karadžić at an appeal court in The Hague, and (2) whether that ruling increases the likelihood that Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, will be arrested and brought before the International Criminal Court.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) is an independent and impartial tribunal established by UNSC Resolution 1966, conducting the residual work of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. We welcome the IRMCT Appeals Chamber's decision in the Karadžić Appeals Judgement which set aside the sentence of 40 years and imposed on Karadžić a sentence of life imprisonment, owing to the heinous crimes he committed. The decision is one made by competent judges who apply the law to the facts.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), on the other hand, is a permanent International Criminal Tribunal court, established by a Treaty, the Rome Statute. Its jurisdiction differs from that of the IRMCT. While the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the IRMCT has no jurisdiction over the suspect.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Christianity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the Home Office refused asylum applications because of (1) quotations used by applicants from the Bible which “are inconsistent with your [the applicant’s] claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion...”; and (2) a candidate “affirmed in your Asylum Interview Record that Jesus is your saviour, but then claimed He would not be able to save you from the Iranian regime. It is therefore considered that you have no conviction in your faith and your belief in Jesus is half-hearted”.
Answered on: 04 April 2019

We are urgently investigating reports which indicate that some asylum decisions were not drafted in accordance with our policy.

Published Home Office policy guidance contains detailed instructions on how asylum decision makers are expected to approach religious based claims. Our policy makes clear that when assessing such claims, decision makers are expected to ask appropriate and sensitive questions based on an understanding of religious concepts, philosophical viewpoints and forms of persecution a person may suffer due to their religion, belief or lack of belief.

Where credibility of a conversion to a faith needs to be established, an interview should be far more an exploration of a claimant’s personal experiences and journey to their new faith, both in their country and in the UK, rather than a test of religious facts.

The Home Office have worked closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Asy-lum Advocacy Group (AAG) for many years, to help improve their approach to religious based claims and have recently worked with them to develop and produce a specialist training package.

The aim of this course is to ensure that where religion or belief is raised in an asylum claim, asylum decision makers appropriately consider all the available evidence in accordance International, European & Domestic law and Home Office Asylum Policy, when interviewing asylum applicants and making decisions on their claims.

The course will be rolled out to Asylum Senior Caseworkers and Technical Specialists in April 2019 and all asylum Decision Makers over the course of the subsequent three months.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Home Office
Asylum: Religion
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to ensure that officials assessing asylum applications have sufficient theological information to interrogate claims made by those seeking refuge from persecution on account of their faith.
Answered on: 04 April 2019

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights.

Asylum decision-makers carefully assess protection needs following an interview by considering all available evidence provided by the claimant in light of published country information. They receive extensive training on considering asylum claims and must follow published Home Office policy guidance. Guidance on interviewing and decision making are provided in published policy instructions on gov.uk:


https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/asylum-decision-making-guidance-asylum-instructions and

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/considering-asylum-claims-and-assessing-credibility-instruction

The Home Office have worked closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Asylum Advocacy Group (AAG) for many years, to help improve their approach to religious based claims and have recently worked with them to develop and produce a specialist training package.

The aim of this course is to ensure that where religion or belief is raised in an asylum claim, asylum decision makers appropriately consider all the available evidence in accordance International, European & Domestic law and Home Office Asylum Policy, when interviewing asylum applicants and making decisions on their claims.

The course will be rolled out to Asylum Senior Caseworkers and Technical Specialists in April 2019 and all asylum Decision Makers over the course of the subsequent three months.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 25 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Omar al-Bashir
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their policy on civil servants, business people, or British visitors to Sudan meeting Omar al-Bashir following his indictment by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity; and whether the UK–Sudan Strategic Dialogue due to take place in spring 2019 will be cancelled.
A
Answered on: 03 April 2019

In line with long established policy British Government officials and Ministers avoid all non-essential contact with all those indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is for private individuals to make their own decisions about whether to hold meetings with ICC indictees. No date is confirmed for the next Strategic Dialogue. We continue to monitor the situation and keep this under review.

Q
Asked by Baroness Cox
Asked on: 11 March 2019
Home Office
Oluwole Ilesanmi
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the implications for freedom of speech of the arrest of Christian street preacher Oluwole Ilesanmi.
Answered on: 25 March 2019

The Government does not prevent individuals from following their religious beliefs or cultural traditions provided they do so within the law. The diversity of modern Britain is one of our strengths and many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices.

The right to freedom of expression is a vital part of a democratic society. It is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to share their views with others.

Decisions on arrests are an operational matter for the police working within the provisions of the legal framework set by Parliament.

Grouped Questions: HL14366
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