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: 26 June 2019
Home Office
Emergency Services
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make it mandatory for emergency vehicles and motorcycles to use auditory warnings as well as flashing lights when travelling on the wrong side of any road.
Answered on: 10 July 2019

Emergency service drivers are empowered to use certain road traffic exemption in the course of their duties. Decisions on when to exercise these exemptions is an operational matter.

In the Government’s response to “The Law Guidance and Training Governing Police Pursuits” consultation we committed to undertaking a review of existing emergency service exemptions to traffic law to ensure that they are appropriate. Part of the review will consider how emergency services use exemptions safely.

Asked on: 15 May 2019
Northern Ireland Office
Abortion: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to bring the law on abortion in Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK while there is no functioning Assembly in Northern Ireland.
A
Answered on: 24 May 2019

The Government recognises the sensitivities of this issue and the strongly held views on all sides of the debate in Northern Ireland and across the rest of the UK.

As abortion is devolved, the best way forward is for locally accountable politicians in Northern Ireland to make decisions. We want to see devolved government restored at the earliest opportunity through the current political talks process.

Asked on: 10 April 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Elections
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the general election result in Israel.
A
Answered on: 25 April 2019

Following the election that took place in Israel on 9 April, Israeli political parties are now engaged in coalition formation discussions. The UK looks forward to continuing its excellent relationship with the Israeli Government and to working closely together on shared areas of interest.​

Asked on: 26 March 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel: Golan Heights
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recognition by the President of the United States of Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights; and what discussions they have had, or intend to have, with the government of the United States about that recognition.
A
Answered on: 08 April 2019

On 26 March officials from our Embassy in Washington raised our concerns with US counterparts about the US Presidential Proclamation recognising that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel. We are clear that the UK views the Golan Heights as territory occupied by Israel. Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN Charter. The UK did not recognise Israel's annexation in 1981 and we have no plans to change our position. On 26 March we reiterated our firm position on this matter at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Asked on: 06 March 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
BMW: Oxford
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with BMW about the future of the MINI manufacturing plant in Oxford in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 15 March 2019

Leaving the EU with a deal that supports the future of British industry remains the government’s top priority. The Government is determined to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive and other advanced manufacturing.

With 4,000 staff in their Oxford plant alone, BMW is a hugely important company for the UK. BEIS Ministers and officials regularly meet with the company, to understand and support them in their planning. My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW Board Member with responsibility for the UK spoke on 13 March.

Asked on: 23 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Angola: Commonwealth
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to invite the President of Angola to visit the UK in order to discuss his stated wish to have his country join the Commonwealth.
A
Answered on: 05 February 2019

The UK is committed to deepening our bilateral relationship with Angola. Decisions on Commonwealth membership are made by consensus by all Commonwealth member states. The UK is supportive of Angola's aspiration to join the Commonwealth, provided it meets the criteria for membership. The Permanent Under Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office discussed this matter with the Angolan Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during his visit to Luanda in August 2018. There are no immediate plans for the President of Angola to visit the UK, but he would be very welcome to visit.

Asked on: 20 December 2018
Department for Transport
Caledonian Sleeper Rail Franchise
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Scotland about when the Caledonian Sleeper train carriages were originally expected to be in service; and when they are now expected to be so.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 08 January 2019

Under the devolved arrangements relating to the railways in Scotland, the Caledonian Sleeper service is solely the responsibility of the Scottish Government and operates under a franchise procured by Scottish Ministers. It has therefore not been the subject of substantive discussions between the Scottish and UK Governments in recent years.

Asked on: 05 November 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Interpol: Taiwan
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations, if any, they have made to secure an observer place for Taiwan at the forthcoming General Assembly of Interpol, and for that country to have access to the I-24/7 global police communications system.
A
Answered on: 15 November 2018

The British Government believes that the people of Taiwan have a valuable contribution to make towards global issues such as organised crime. Their involvement would, in our view, improve co-operation on issues that pose a risk to the international community, including the United Kingdom and our own people. Although the UK has not made any representations to secure Taiwan’s observer status at INTERPOL this year, we are discussing this issue with international partners, including those countries on the INTERPOL Executive Committee.

Asked on: 24 October 2018
Department for Exiting the European Union
Brexit
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of the speech by the King of the Netherlands to both Houses of Parliament on 23 October; and what steps they are taking to safeguard the current rights of Dutch citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the Netherlands after Brexit.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 08 November 2018

We welcomed the King's remarks, particularly that Brexit does not mean goodbye, but merely a new start in the close, historic relationship between the UK and the Netherlands. That is a view we share.

Safeguarding citizens’ rights is our first priority for negotiations. The draft Withdrawal Agreement will provide certainty about the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK going forward. We are implementing this agreement through the EU Settlement Scheme and are working with Member States, including the Netherlands, to understand how they will do the same.

Asked on: 01 October 2018
Department for Transport
Borders Railway Line: Carlisle
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the response by the Prime Minister on 5 September (HC Deb, col 157), whether they will contribute (1) funding, and (2) any other support towards extending the Borders rail route to Carlisle.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The UK Government is committed to working with the Scottish Government to drive forward the innovative, cross-border Borderlands Deal. We will be working with local partners to agree a deal which will see significant investment to transform the local economies within the Borderlands area.

We can confirm that the Borderlands have sought funding for feasibility work on the extension of the Borders Railway as part of their Borderlands Growth Deal submission to both governments on Friday 28 September.

Asked on: 11 July 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: China
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take measures to protect British Airways and any other UK companies from being pressured into changing the designation of Taiwan to Taiwan, China.
A
Answered on: 19 July 2018

Her Majesty's Government's long-standing policy on Taiwan has not changed. The British government refers to Taiwan as simply "Taiwan" and, when included in a list of places, does so under an inclusive heading, such as "country/territory" or "world locations". When guidance has been sought from Her Majesty's Government on the terminology to use, we have been clear about the British Government's terminology for Taiwan.

Private companies and organisations should be able to decide the terminology that they use to list destinations. UK companies should not be placed under political pressure to make changes. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Officials have registered our concern with the Chinese Government on this point.

Asked on: 08 May 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fish: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have undertaken or commissioned into the decline of stocks of wild salmon and sea trout, and the polluting effects of farmed salmon.
A
Answered on: 21 May 2018

Freshwater fisheries and aquaculture policy is devolved in the UK. In England, Defra has funded numerous projects on factors that could contribute to the decline in stocks of wild salmon and sea trout. These can be found on the Defra research database at http://randd.defra.gov.uk/. We have not commissioned any research on the potential environmental impacts of salmon farming in recent years.

The devolved administrations also have active research programmes on migratory fish and these can be found at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/525279/Background_Salmon_Report_2015_final.pdf

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Salmon-Trout-Coarse/Freshwater/Research

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Salmon-Trout-Coarse/Freshwater/Research/Aqint

https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/digest-statistics-salmon-and-inland-fisheries-daera-jurisdiction-2017

Asked on: 09 May 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Zimbabwe: Elections
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the electoral commission is genuinely independent prior to the forthcoming elections.
A
Answered on: 21 May 2018

The Foreign Secretary met Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo on 20 April and our Ambassador met President Mnangagwa on 5 May to discuss Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections. At these meetings, we were clear that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must be neutral and enjoy the confidence of all parties contesting the elections. While we welcome the appointment of a new ZEC Chair, the organisation must be scrupulously impartial and ensure it deals with all stakeholders equally.

Asked on: 24 April 2018
The Senior Deputy Speaker
Peers
Lords
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker how many members of the House have (1) retired or otherwise resigned, and (2) ceased to be a member of the House as a result of non-attendance or conviction of a serious offence, since the passing of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.
A
Answered on: 02 May 2018

Since the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 came into force, 81 members of the House have retired and six have ceased to be a member as a result of non-attendance.

Asked on: 01 March 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Western Sahara: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the European Court of Justice decision on 27 February on the EU–Morocco Fisheries Agreement, they will meet with the new representative of MINURSO to expedite settlement of the Western Sahara status.
A
Answered on: 15 March 2018

My colleague, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, has met the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, former German President Horst Koehler, twice in the last two months and our Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Jonathan Allen, has met the new Head of MINURSO, Colin Stewart. They have underlined the UK's firm support for the UN-led efforts to find a solution to the Western Sahara issue. We note the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement. This ruling now passes to the High Court of England and Wales, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Asked on: 22 February 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fisheries: Scotland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Scottish Government about the effect of Brexit on Scottish fisheries.
A
Answered on: 07 March 2018

The Government is working closely with the Devolved Administrations to deliver a future fishing policy that works for the whole of the UK and reflects the different needs and circumstances of fisheries in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.

There has been extensive, positive and productive discussions at Ministerial and official level between Defra and the DAs, including the Scottish Government. The Secretary of State meets regularly with his Ministerial counterparts in the Scottish and Welsh Governments and senior officials from Northern Ireland. Officials have also established joint Defra-DA working groups to strengthen collaborative working and preparedness as we consider the implications of exiting the EU on UK fisheries.

Asked on: 22 February 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sheep: Scotland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Scottish Government about the findings of a report by Scotland's Rural College on the effect of Brexit on sheep farming in Scotland.
A
Answered on: 07 March 2018

Ministers and Defra officials meet regularly with the Scottish Government, along with their counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss a range of issues connected with the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. In connection with this, HM Government is undertaking a wide range of analysis and examining all areas of the UK economy, seeking input from a wide range of stakeholders. The report from Scotland’s Rural College “Assessing the impacts of alternative post-Brexit trade and agricultural support policy scenarios on Scottish farming systems” makes a contribution to that process.

Asked on: 05 February 2018
Department for International Development
Gaza: Health Services
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the announcement by the Palestinian Ministry of Health that because of fuel shortages affecting hospitals and clinics “urgent action is needed to prevent collapse of Gaza’s health system”, they are planning to offer any assistance.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 16 February 2018

We remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and continue to monitor it closely, including the effect electricity shortages are having on the health sector. The UK will continue to urge all the parties to prioritise progress towards reaching a durable solution for Gaza and to take the necessary practical steps to improve conditions, including restoring the availability of electricity as a matter of urgency. The UK is supporting approximately 1 million Gazans by addressing critical water, sanitation and hygiene needs through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and is a long-term supporter of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), which provides basic services to 1.3 million people in Gaza, including basic health care.

Asked on: 22 January 2018
HM Treasury
Credit Cards: Fraud
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to have discussions with the major banks about the use of contactless credit cards for sums under £30 and the ease with which such cards might be misused.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 05 February 2018

Treasury ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. This includes regular meetings with consumer organisations to discuss relevant regulatory issues, including consumer protection on payment instruments.

Government takes all fraud extremely seriously. In February 2016 the government set up the Joint Fraud Taskforce, which aims to use the collective powers, systems and resources of banks, payment providers, police, wider law enforcement and regulators to tackle fraud, and raise awareness of the risk of fraud among consumers.

The Taskforce is currently focused on: developing a national fraud prevention campaign to provide targeted advice to the public; improving the police response to fraud at national, regional and local level; exploring ways in which more victims of fraud can have their losses repaid; removing vulnerabilities fraudsters exploit to commit certain types of fraud; and, improving support for victims of fraud which will ensure a consistent response including for those who may be more vulnerable or susceptible to fraud.

Industry statistics received from Financial Fraud Action UK indicate that in the first half of 2016 there were £2.9 million losses attributed to fraud on contactless cards compared to a spend of £9.27 billion. This is just 0.031% of spending on contactless technology. According to the industry, fraud on contactless cards accounts for less than 1% of card fraud losses.

Asked on: 22 January 2018
Home Office
Credit Cards: Fraud
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many reported credit card frauds there were in each of the last available three years; and what was the total sum involved.
Answered on: 31 January 2018

The Home Office collects quarterly fraud data, including banking and credit card industry fraud data, from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

These data are published by the ONS on a quarterly basis. The latest data are for year to June 2017 and are available in Table A5 at the link below: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/crimeinenglandandwalesappendixtables

Published tables for earlier quarters are also available at the above link.

Table A5 (Excel SpreadSheet, 108.95 KB)
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