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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Asked on: 02 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Yemen: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the response by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on Yemen on 1 April (HL Deb, cols 59–65),  in which years the UK participated in coalition naval enforcement measures in Yemen’s territorial waters that put in effect UN Resolution 2216, adopted by the UN Security Council in April 2015, that prohibited the delivery of arms to Houthi rebels; what steps they have taken in response to the final report of the UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Yemen, published on 26 January 2018, which stated that the closure of the port of Hodeidah in November 2017 “had the effect of using the threat of starvation as an instrument of war”; and what assessment they have made of the success of Royal Navy officers in the coalition’s operational command rooms in ensuring the delivery of lawful shipments of food, water and equipment for the maintenance of water treatment plants to Yemen’s ports.
A
Answered on: 16 April 2019

UK naval forces are not operating in Yemeni waters. In November 2017, following an attempted Houthi ballistic missile strike on Riyadh, the Coalition introduced access restrictions on Red Sea ports. These restrictions were lifted two months later following concerted UK diplomacy and additional UK support to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM). This included the International Development Secretary’s own visit to Saudi Arabia, where she made detailed operational requests on access and pushed for unconstrained access to be granted across the country. Royal Navy Liaison Officers operate in the Royal Saudi Naval Forces headquarters in a liaison capacity only.

Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department for International Development
Pakistan: Shanty Towns
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when their officials working in Pakistan last visited the shanty towns on the periphery of Islamabad to report on the conditions in which the residents live; and whether they are collecting data on the percentage of people from Pakistan’s minorities living in such areas.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 16 April 2019

UK aid prioritises support for the poorest and most excluded people and communities in Pakistan. Thus, whilst we recognise that there are poor people living in Islamabad, UK aid is focussed in the provinces with the highest number of poor people and on strengthening capacity of those provinces to deliver basic services to their populations.

DFID strive to visit as many programme locations as possible to gather feedback from communities, including minority communities. DFID Pakistan also has projects that work directly with minorities and aims to tackle the drivers underpinning intolerance and discrimination, through promoting greater understanding between communities.

DFID Pakistan is striving to better disaggregate its results through a data disaggregation action plan which focuses on 4 key areas: sex, age, disability and geography. This will improve our understanding of those who benefit from our programmes. We do not currently have plans to collect data on religion as we recognise the risks associated with potentially revealing such sensitive information for religious minorities.

Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department for International Development
Pakistan: Minority Groups
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reconsider their policy of disregarding the status of Pakistan’s minorities in determining and allocating development aid.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 16 April 2019

UK aid prioritises support for the poorest and most excluded people and communities in Pakistan regardless of race, religion, social background or nationality. Our investment will not only assist Pakistan to become a more prosperous country that will help millions of its citizens living in poverty, but will also improve stability and security in Pakistan, the region, and beyond.

Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department for International Development
Pakistan: Shanty Towns
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any development funds are directed towards the rebuilding and provision of running water or electricity to Islamabad's shanty towns; and if not, why not.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 16 April 2019

The UK’s work in Pakistan is focused on peace and stability, making democracy work, jobs and growth and providing basic services.

UK aid prioritises support for the poorest and most excluded people and communities in Pakistan, thus DFID Pakistan’s bilateral programmes focus on provinces with the highest numbers of poor people and on strengthening the capacity of those provinces to deliver basic services to their populations. This includes supporting the provision of electricity and engaging with the governments regarding adequate water provision.

While we recognise that there are poor people living in Islamabad, without access to electricity or running water, they cannot be our focus. We expect the Islamabad Capital Development Authority to support them with support received at national level from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Asked on: 09 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hong Kong: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have raised with the government of China (1) the jailing of political protestors, (2) restrictions on free speech, (3) the abduction of booksellers who supply titles critical of China’s rulers, (4) the banning of a political party, and (5) the expulsion of a senior Financial Times journalist, Victor Mallet, in Hong Kong.
A
Answered on: 16 April 2019

The British Government takes extremely seriously our longstanding duty to uphold the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. We will continue to monitor closely events in Hong Kong, speaking publicly on issues of concern. We have raised a number of concerns with the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR Governments, including the banning of the Hong Kong National Party, the refusal of Victor Mallet's visa renewal, the abduction of the booksellers, and wider concerns about the erosion of rights and freedoms, including the right to free speech, guaranteed by the Joint Declaration.

The Six Monthly Reports to Parliament contain a detailed analysis of developments, and clearly sets out where we have concerns. ​

Asked on: 09 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hong Kong: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that the new national anthem law in China, which applies at the high-speed rail terminus in Hong Kong, and which has made it an offence to insult China’s national anthem, while failing to define such insults, will have on the human rights of Hong Kong citizens; and what assessment they have made of the implications of (1) the new Chinese national security law, and (2) proposals to change Hong Kong’s extradition laws to enable extradition from Hong Kong to the mainland.
A
Answered on: 16 April 2019

We believe that it is fitting to show respect to any National Anthem. Whether it is necessary to enforce such respect with legislation is a matter for the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR Governments to decide. In Hong Kong freedom of speech is guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and it is vital that such freedoms are fully respected

Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law requires that Hong Kong enact laws relating to national security. We are not, however, aware of any plans to enact such legislation at the present time

We are aware of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government's proposals to change the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. We have noted the concerns voiced by legal and business representative organisations and civil society groups in Hong Kong about both the content and the short consultation period allowed for the proposed changes. We have raised a number of issues with the Hong Kong Government, including the implications for both our joint security cooperation and our bilateral extradition treaty and the potential consequences for the UK business community and for UK citizens living in or travelling through Hong Kong. We will continue to seek clarity from the authorities on these points and to make clear that we would welcome a longer consultation period to allow the issues we and others have raised to be dealt with in a comprehensive way that maintains public and business confidence.

It remains the British Government's view that, for Hong Kong's future success, it is essential that Hong Kong enjoys, and is seen to enjoy, the full measure of its high degree of autonomy and rule of law as set out in the Joint Declaration and enshrined in the Basic Law, in keeping with the commitment to 'One Country, Two Systems'. ​

Asked on: 01 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Smuggling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking following the evidence gathered by HMS Montrose regarding fuel tankers illegally smuggling petrol to North Korea.
A
Answered on: 15 April 2019

We have passed on evidence gathered by HMS Montrose on illegal North Korean ship to ship transfers of fuel to the UN Panel of Experts. The Panel is mandated to gather, examine and analyse information provided by States on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions, as well as information on incidents of non-compliance. ​

Asked on: 01 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Smuggling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking following the findings of the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea in March that “Ports and airports in North Korea were being used for rampant violations” of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions, involving at least 89 calls by fuel tankers at North Korean ports involving illegal imports of oil, coal, and bulk cash.
A
Answered on: 15 April 2019

We keep a close track of North Korean sanctions implementation and respond robustly when there is evidence of sanctions breaches. We are active in working with and lobbying, where necessary, international partners to ensure that all relevant UN Security Council resolutions in respect of North Korea are fully and effectively implemented.

Asked on: 01 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Post-mortems
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports from the Human Tissue Authority (1) that a memory stick containing images of post-mortems was left on public transport, (2) of multiple organs being lost or misattributed, (3) of organs being kept against the wishes of families, (4) of post mortems being carried out on the wrong bodies, and (5) the findings of the Chester Coroner that human tissue has been removed "without consent"; what action has been taken against those responsible for each such instance; and what steps they have taken to ensure no future such incidents occur.
Answered on: 10 April 2019

The Government assesses data from the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) on reported incidents at quarterly accountability meetings.

When these incidents occur they are upsetting for the families of those involved; although they are rare, when they do happen we are assured that the HTA work with establishments to ensure that a thorough investigation takes place, and that improvements are made to reduce the risk of similar incidents happening again.

Asked on: 02 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Religious Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs in Guangzhou, China, is offering rewards to those who provide it with information on the structure and activities of illegal religious groups in that city.
A
Answered on: 10 April 2019

We are aware of the reports from Guangzhou and continue to monitor these and other reports relating to freedom of religion or belief in China. Everyone should be free to practice their religion according to their beliefs, in accordance with the international frameworks to which both the UK and China are party. We believe that societies which aim to guarantee freedom of religion or belief are more stable, prosperous and more resilient against violent extremism. The prohibition of some religious groups, and the legal restrictions and harassment aimed at others, undermines freedom of religion or belief in China.

Asked on: 03 April 2019
Department of Health and Social Care
Human-animal Hybrid Embryos
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the medical conditions for which interspecies nuclear transfer has provided the first effective treatments; and how many human-admixed embryos have been produced in each year since the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
Answered on: 10 April 2019

There are no medical conditions for which interspecies nuclear transfer has provided effective treatments.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) has advised that, in 2008, 155 admixed embryos were produced in a HFEA licensed research project. No admixed embryos have been produced in HFEA licensed research projects in any other year to date.

Asked on: 10 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Rwanda: Genocide
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks made by the Rwandan Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye that “Anyone who cares about British values and justice should be ashamed. The UK will go down in history as the only country in Europe which knowingly shielded alleged Rwandan genocidaires from justice.”
Asked on: 10 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hong Kong: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to the inclusion of a human rights clause, protecting the rule of law, in any future trade deal that includes trade with Hong Kong; and whether they intend, in conjunction with other countries, to raise issues regarding Hong Kong in international fora, in particular its extradition laws and the autonomy of Hong Kong.
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Home Office
Islamic State: Crimes against Humanity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 8 April (HL14768), whether the individuals they assessed as no longer being of national security concern were prosecuted for participation or complicity in Daesh atrocities; and if not, why not.
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Iraq: Yazidis
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Iraq to extend the provisions of the bill on rights for Yazidi female survivors, submitted to the Iraqi parliament on 28 March, to include all women kidnapped and enslaved by ISIS, and to ensure that all crimes committed against minorities are defined as such in international fora.
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Brunei: Legal Systems
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 8 April (HL14929), whether they have discussed the changes to Brunei’s laws with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth; and whether, while such laws remain in place, they will call for Brunei’s suspension from the Commonwealth due to those laws' incompatibility with Commonwealth values.
Asked on: 09 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hong Kong: Human Rights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the charges (1) incitement to public nuisance, (2) incitement to incite public nuisance, and (3) conspiracy to public nuisance, used in Hong Kong; and what effect they anticipate such charges will have on Hong Kong’s freedoms and sustaining the “two systems, one country” model.
Asked on: 25 March 2019
Home Office
Islamic State: Crimes against Humanity
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 21 March (HL Deb, cols 1523–5), how many individuals accused of participation or complicity in the Daesh atrocities have been prosecuted to date in the UK; and on what charges.
Answered on: 08 April 2019

There are a range of tough measures to deal with people who pose a serious threat to the UK. As of June 2018, there had been around 40 convictions of individuals who had been prosecuted following their return from Syria, for a range of offences connected to their activities overseas or subsequent counter-terrorism investigations.

This number includes a ten year custodial sentence for Mohammed Abdullah, a British national convicted in December 2017 of IS membership, after leaked documents from a defector revealed his role as a “specialist sniper”, and the minimum of 40 years for Khalid Ali who was sentenced in 2018 for planning a terrorist attack in Westminster.

The majority of those who have returned did so in the earlier stages of the conflict and have been investigated. A significant proportion of these individuals are assessed as no longer being of national security concern.

Asked on: 26 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that North Korea has been involved in illegal trade and the hacking of foreign banks.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

North Korea continues to undertake trade activities prohibited by a number of UN Security Council Resolutions. We are aware of industry reports on North Korean cyber activity. The UK has a comprehensive cyber strategy to address both criminal and state based threats which includes activity to defend and deter cyber-attacks as well as develop our national expertise. We are working with our international partners to ensure that all existing UN Security Council measures in respect of North Korea are fully, and effectively, implemented. In addition, we welcome the work of the UN Panel of Experts who are mandated to gather, examine and analyse information provided by States on their implementation of the measures, as well as information on incidents of non-compliance. The Panel's latest report details continued evasion of sanctions by North Korea and insufficient implementation of sanctions by a wide range of countries. The report and previous reports can be found on the UN Security Council website.

Asked on: 26 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea: Foreign Trade
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that North Korea has (1) illegally sold minerals, gold, drugs, coal, and weapons, and (2) misused the flags of other nations to avoid international maritime inspection.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

North Korea continues to undertake activities prohibited by a number of UN Security Council Resolutions including illegal exports of coal and the use of deceptive shipping practices. We are working with our international partners to ensure that all existing UN Security Council measures in respect of North Korea are fully, and effectively, implemented. In addition, we welcome the work of the UN Panel of Experts who are mandated to gather, examine and analyse information provided by States on their implementation of the measures, as well as information on incidents of non-compliance. The Panel's latest report details continued evasion of sanctions by North Korea and insufficient implementation of sanctions by a wide range of countries. The report and previous reports can be found on the UN Security Council website.

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