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: 14 May 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Honda: Swindon
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in their discussions with Honda over the closure of their plant in Swindon, they have raised the possibility of the future use of the site and plant for the large-scale production of electric vehicles; and whether they would consider giving financial support to such a venture.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 29 May 2019

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy met with the Honda Executives in London on 18 February, just ahead of Honda’s initial announcement to close its Swindon plant on 19 February. The Secretary of State has chaired a taskforce consisting of local leaders, MPs and trade unions, to provide support to the workforce and businesses who would be affected by the loss of Honda’s plant in Swindon. Through the taskforce we are determined to work together to ensure that Swindon continues its record of attracting investment from advanced manufacturers, maintaining and creating highly skilled jobs that offer fulfilling careers for many years to come. That will include engaging closely with parties interested in future uses of the site in Swindon owned by Honda.

The Government supports the competitiveness of the UK automotive sector via a number of routes. Government has committed £274m to the Faraday Battery Challenge, and circa £80m in the last Budget to the Stephenson Challenge, newly named ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’. Together Government and industry have committed around £1 billion through the Advanced Propulsion Centre to support research, development and commercialisation of the next generation of low carbon technologies, keeping the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon automotive innovations. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation provides R&D support across a range of technology themes including low carbon, materials and manufacturing; and connected and autonomous vehicles.

Asked on: 06 March 2019
Home Office
Police: Recruitment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the net cost to (1) central government, and (2) local authorities, of providing an additional 20,000 police officers in the UK.
Answered on: 20 March 2019

The Home Office has responsibility for policing in England and Wales, where the size and composition of the police workforce is a local decision for Police and Crime Commissioners, working with chief officers. Policing in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter.

The police funding settlement for 2019/20 in England and Wales increases funding by around £970 million, including additional funding for pensions, and income from council tax. PCCs have been setting out their plans to use this additional funding to recruit around 2700 additional police officers and 600 staff.

Asked on: 06 March 2019
Department for Transport
M4: Lighting
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether overhead lighting on the M4 motorway will be replaced following the M4's conversion to a smart motorway between junctions 3 and 8/9; and whether that lighting will be extended to junction 12.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 13 March 2019

Highways England is currently assessing the need for lighting on the M4 J3 to J12 smart motorway scheme against current standards. Where lighting is required it will be retained and junctions will remain lit. If any lighting is proposed to be removed from the scheme, Highways England will need to consult with affected local authorities as part of the process of discharging requirements set in the planning approval (Development Consent Order).

Asked on: 20 February 2019
Treasury
Taxation: EU Action
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Bates on 19 January (HLWS1308) concerning the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting of 12 February, what position was taken by the UK during the exchange of views on the European Commission’s proposal to move to qualified majority voting in EU taxation policy.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 06 March 2019

As set out in an explanatory memorandum dated 5 February 2019,[1] the government does not support the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in the field of taxation and this remains the case following the recent Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) discussion.

[1] http://europeanmemoranda.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/files/2019/02/Scan.pdf

EM attached. (PDF Document, 9.67 MB)
Asked on: 06 February 2019
Treasury
EU Staff: Pensions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 28 January (HL12856), whether the €9.75 billion in pensions liabilities are part of the estimated £39 billion settlement or additional to it.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 20 February 2019

The financial settlement negotiated with the European Union includes the value of pensions liabilities incurred while a member state.

We have reached a fair financial settlement with the EU, honouring commitments we made during our period of membership, and have ensured a fair deal for UK taxpayers. The Government was able to secure a number of successes in negotiations that reduced the size of the settlement from what it might have been under the Commission’s original proposal including provisions that enable future simplifications for the period over which we pay for pensions.

Asked on: 21 January 2019
Department for Exiting the European Union
EU Presidency
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the EU General Affairs Council meeting on 8 January, what assessment they have made of the presidency's priorities and focus on building a more cohesive EU.
A
Answered by: Lord Callanan
Answered on: 04 February 2019

The Government is supporting Romania in its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union. We welcome the broad theme of cohesion which will underpin the Romanian Presidency’s four planned priority areas. On the priority of Converging Europe, the UK Government welcomes the Presidency’s prioritisation of these proposals and believes in the benefits of an open, flexible market with a regulatory framework that reflects the dynamic nature of the digital economy and increases cross-border e-commerce. On a safer Europe, the UK is unconditionally committed to ensuring European security. We support the Presidency’s desire to implement plans to counter terrorism, deliver on the European Agenda on migration and promote cyber-security. On Europe, a stronger global actor, the UK Government looks forward to cooperating with the Presidency on its work with the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership regions. Finally, on a Europe of common values, the UK places great importance in supporting the countering of misinformation.

Asked on: 21 January 2019
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Sleeping Rough: Immigrants
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of immigration on the increase in rough sleeping in England since 2013.
Answered on: 04 February 2019

The Government has not made an assessment of the impact of immigration on the number of people sleeping rough.

However, national street counts and intelligence driven estimates of people sleeping rough are conducted every year in autumn and these take account of an individual’s nationality. The most recent data (for England) is from the autumn 2018 annual street count and estimate, which returned a total figure of 4,677 rough sleepers in England - showing a fall in numbers for the first time in 8 years - 1,048 of these self-reported as non-UK nationals.

To tackle this issue, we are making £5 million of funding available to help local areas support non-UK national rough sleepers off the streets. This funding will complement the projects which we have already funded through the £100 million Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) for local authorities to work with non-UK nationals who sleep rough. Further CMF funding allocations will be announced shortly.

This Government is committed to reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. No one should ever have to sleep rough. That is why last summer we published the cross-government Rough Sleeping Strategy which sets out an ambitious £100 million package to help people who sleep rough now, but also puts in place the structures that will end rough sleeping once and for all. The Government has now committed over £1.2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the spending review period.

Asked on: 21 January 2019
Department for Education
Schools: Curriculum
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of non-curriculum activities on the teaching of the core curriculum in state schools in England.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 04 February 2019

The department has made no specific assessment on this matter as it is up to schools themselves to decide how to organise curricular and non-curricular activities.

All schools have to provide a broad and balanced curriculum. Ofsted is currently consulting on proposals for a new inspection framework which has a strong emphasis on curriculm, alongside a focus on pupils’ personal development and extra-curricular opportunities.

The attached table, taken from the School workforce in England 2017 publication, indicates that in state funded secondary schools the proportion of all teaching time spent on core subjects has increased.

Asked on: 21 January 2019
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Disinformation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in supporting the EU Joint Action Plan against Disinformation, they have confidence that no member state, including the UK, sanctions or tolerates the spreading of disinformation.
A
Answered by: Lord Ashton of Hyde
Answered on: 31 January 2019

The Government welcomes the Commission’s ‘Joint Action Plan against Disinformation’ as an important step in efforts to counter this threat. All countries must take action to protect their societies against disinformation. By agreeing on the Action Plan, the EU has signalled that disinformation activity from any source will not be tolerated. The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves and work with our allies to do likewise.

Asked on: 21 January 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
River Severn: Tidal Power
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of concerns over the future of the Wylfa Newydd and Moorside nuclear power station projects, they will re-examine the viability of the Severn Barrage project.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 29 January 2019

The Department undertook a detailed study of the strategic case for a Severn Barrage in 2010 and concluded that there was no strategic case for Government investment in such a project. The Government remains open to considering well developed tidal range projects if they can credibly demonstrate that they represent value for money when compared to other forms of low carbon generation, such as offshore wind.

Asked on: 15 January 2019
Treasury
EU Staff: Pensions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the share of pension liabilities to which they have agreed as part of the UK's departure from the EU is based on (1) the full budget share of those liabilities, or (2) the number of British staff employed by the EU up to and until exit day.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 28 January 2019

As set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, as part of the Financial Settlement, the United Kingdom shall be liable to the Union for its share of the financing of the Union's liabilities incurred until 31 December 2020, including pensions. The UK’s share, as set out under Article 139, shall be a percentage calculated as the ratio between the EU Budget contributions made available by the United Kingdom in the years 2014 to 2020 and those EU Budget contributions made available during that period by all Member States and the United Kingdom. The Office for Budget Responsibility in October 2018, estimated the UK’s share of the EU’s pension liabilities as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, at €9.75 billion.

Asked on: 15 January 2019
Cabinet Office
General Elections: Deposits
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, and if so, when, they plan to bring forward legislation to abolish the deposit required to stand for election to the House of Commons.
A
Answered by: Lord Young of Cookham
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The requirement for candidates to pay a deposit of £500 in order to stand for election to the House of Commons is set out in primary legislation. The Government is not seeking to change this requirement at present.

Asked on: 15 January 2019
Department for Transport
Railways: Ownership
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what parts of the UK's railways, including tracks and trains, they own.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 18 January 2019

The national rail infrastructure is held and managed by Network Rail, a Non-Departmental Public Body reporting to the Department for Transport. A number of privately owned lines and sidings are connected to the national rail network. Almost all rolling stock in operation on the national rail network is privately owned. The franchised passenger train operating companies are contracted out by the Department for Transport or devolved administrations. The Intercity East Coast franchise is currently operated by a publicly owned operating company, LNER Ltd, pending the letting of a new franchise. All these train services operate on the national rail network alongside privately owned freight and passenger train operating companies.

The High Speed 1 infrastructure between London St Pancras and the UK Channel Tunnel portal is owned by the Department for Transport and let as a thirty year concession. Some UK cities own and operate their own rail networks, notably London, Newcastle and Glasgow.

Asked on: 05 December 2018
Home Office
Immigration
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect net migration to reduce to under 100,000 per year.
Answered on: 18 December 2018

We remain committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels. Net migration has fallen since peaks in 2015 and 2016 and we will continue to reform our immigration routes to ensure that they work in the best interests of the country.

We will shortly be publishing an Immigration White Paper which will contain the principles for our new immigration system. We are ending free movement and designing a system that will work in the national interest.
We have been clear that the UK will always be open to those who bring valuable skills, experience and investment to the UK and our economy. We will continue to pursue immigration policies that are selective about who makes the greatest contribution to our country.

Asked on: 05 December 2018
Department for Transport
Railways: Investment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the total new investment in UK railways since privatisation by (1) Network Rail and its predecessor, and (2) train operating companies.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 18 December 2018

There are no figures available covering the entire period since privatisation.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published statistics on private-sector investment in rail in Great Britain since 2006-07. Private investment is at record levels, totalling £8.3bn over this period, with £6.7bn in the last decade.

The figures can be found online at the link below:

http://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/displayreport/report/html/a1bcb53b-9914-4d7d-9d57-0187cd27e59b

These figures cover all private investment, not just that made by train operating companies. However, the largest category of investment is in rolling stock, which train operators fund though lease payments.

Network Rail has received a government grant since 2001-02 to support its investment in the rail network. The annual amounts are published by the ORR (within the ‘Direct Rail Support’ column of this table) at the link below:

https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/displayreport/report/html/a830de20-83bf-408d-9c22-7f3ec23999f9

Asked on: 05 December 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Poverty
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, UK Poverty 2018, published on 4 December, that 22 per cent of the population are in poverty; and what action they intend to take to remedy the situation.
A
Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 12 December 2018

The figure quoted by the Joseph Rowntree Trust in this report is taken from official national statistics on the number and proportion of people in low income published by the Department for Work and Pensions in March 2018. These statistics show that there are one million fewer people living in absolute poverty since 2010, including 300,000 children.


This Government believes that the best way of tackling poverty is by building a strong economy and getting people into work. Adults in workless families are around 4 times more likely to be in poverty than those in working families. Children in workless households are around 5 times more likely to be in poverty after housing costs than those where all adults work. Nationally, there are now over 3.3 million more people in work, around 964,000 fewer workless households, and around 637,000 fewer children living in such households compared with 2010. This is why we will continue with our reforms to the welfare system so that it encourages work whilst supporting those who need help.

Asked on: 28 November 2018
Ministry of Defence
EU Defence Policy
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the cost of UK participation in EU defence proposals; whether such costs will be met from the UK's defence budget; and whether they will ensure that NATO will remain the military defence organisation for the defence of Europe.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 06 December 2018

As NATO's leading European ally, we remain fully committed to NATO as the cornerstone of European defence and security. As set out in the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU, the Government has offered to cooperate closely on defence and security, as part of an ambitious Security Partnership, on a case-by-case basis, where of mutual benefit. The terms and costs of such cooperation will be subject to future negotiations.

Asked on: 28 November 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Meters
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that energy customers who refuse to have smart meters installed in their premises are not disadvantaged by their energy suppliers.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 05 December 2018

Smart meters will give consumers the data they need to take control of their energy consumption, allowing them to cut their energy bills. Smart meters will also help make the overall energy system more efficient and cheaper to run. While smart meters are voluntary for consumers they will benefit from having one.


Ofgem’s existing regulations will continue to apply, which require energy suppliers to treat all consumers fairly. In addition the Government has acted to protect consumers regardless of meter type, by capping poor value standard variable and default tariffs.

Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Electric Vehicles
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have estimated the additional electricity capacity needed to meet their target for diesel and petrol engine vehicles to be phased out by 2040; whether they will publish any such estimates; and what plans they have to ensure any additional electricity demand is met.
A
Answered by: Lord Henley
Answered on: 28 November 2018

National Grid published their 2018 Future Energy Scenarios on 12 July (attached) and previously produced a bespoke note on the electricity system impacts of electric vehicles (attached). The level of impact that National Grid presents is readily manageable by the electricity system, and shows the benefits that can be provided through smart charging of electric vehicles. Therefore, the Government has taken powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act to mandate that all charge points sold or installed in the UK must be smart enabled, and we are planning to consult on secondary regulations in the new year. In addition, the Government has established an Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce in order to consider these issues, including the underpinning industry standards and practices that may be required.

2018 Future Energy Scenarios (PDF Document, 2.45 MB)
Asked on: 13 November 2018
Home Office
Hate Crime: Females
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to classify misogyny as a hate crime; and if so, whether they intend also to classify misandry as a hate crime.
Answered on: 27 November 2018

The Government has asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of the coverage and approach of current hate crime provisions, to ensure the criminal law is working effectively. This includes consideration of whether there should be additional protected characteristics such as gender. Once the Law Commission review is complete, the recommendations will be looked at in the usual way.

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