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: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Cuba: Religious Freedom
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 20 December 2018 (HL12125), what recent assessment they have made of the standard of protection for freedom of religion or belief in Article 15 of Cuba’s draft constitution and the provision for protecting freedom of conscience, including in Article 59.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​The most recent draft version of the new constitution now addresses freedom of religion in Articles 15 and 57 and freedom of conscience in Article 54. However, in spite of constitutional protections in the present constitution and the draft new constitution, we remain concerned about how effectively these freedoms are protected in reality. Religious expression is still closely regulated and violations against freedom of religion or belief still occur in Cuba. We hope more will be done to ensure these rights and freedoms are protected when the new constitution comes into force. The UK will continue to monitor human rights in Cuba and address concerns through bilateral engagement with Cuba and multilateral human rights fora.

Q
Asked by Lord Beecham
Asked on: 09 January 2019
Ministry of Justice
Magistrates: Recruitment
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of magistrates required to be recruited over the next five years to maintain the present numbers; and whether they plan to increase the retirement age for magistrates.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 21 January 2019

HMCTS is working closely with the Judiciary to develop a protocol that will provide a forecast of the number of magistrates required up to five years ahead. It is anticipated that this protocol will be agreed and implemented by June 2019.

All judicial office holders, including magistrates, are subject to a uniform mandatory retirement age of 70. In responding to the Lords Constitution Committee’s report into Judicial Appointments of November 2017, we said that we would give further consideration to whether a change to the judicial mandatory retirement age was required. That process is ongoing.

Q
Asked by Lord Hoyle
Asked on: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saudi Arabia: Females
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their representations to the government of Saudi Arabia about the continued detention of women convicted of driving before the ban was lifted, what further action they are taking to secure the release of those detained.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​The British Government remains very concerned about the detention of women's rights activists and allegations that they have been subject to torture during pre-trial detention in Saudi Arabia. We understand they also remain without formal charges. We have raised concerns a number of times about these cases at Ministerial level with the Saudi authorities and will do so again. We consistently and unreservedly condemn torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Q
Asked by Lord Hylton
Asked on: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Armed Conflict
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what actions they are taking, in conjunction with governments which have not intervened in the Syrian civil war, to secure the release of all detainees held by the various governments and organisations involved in the conflict.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​The UK has repeatedly condemned the illegal detention, torture and execution of detainees by the Assad regime, affiliated militias and proscribed terrorist organisations. We continue to work with international partners to call for the release of those who are arbitrarily detained, including through our leadership of the regular UN Human Rights Council resolution on Syria and by co-sponsoring an event to highlight this issue during the UN General Assembly ministerial week in September 2018.

Asked on: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what updated information they have on the conditions in which Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in Iran and on the prospects for her release.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​The treatment of all British-Iranians detained in Iran, including Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is a priority for the Government. We urgently raise these cases with the Iranian government at every opportunity. On 14 January, the Foreign Secretary summoned the Iranian Ambassador to the UK and called for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be immediately given the healthcare she requires and for her and other British-Iranian dual nationals to be released. We will continue to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, as well as our other consular cases, with the Iranian government at every opportunity, including requesting consular access, and will continue to take action in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases.

Asked on: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Military Intervention
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether ISIS will regroup if United States troops are withdrawn from Syria; and if that is their assessment, how long they estimate that this will take.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

Since military operations began, the Global Coalition against Daesh and its partners in Syria and Iraq have recaptured the vast majority of Daesh territory. Important advances continue to be made in the last small Daesh pocket in eastern Syria. As the United States recognises, it is important that the withdrawal of US forces from Syria takes place in a way which allows this significant progress to be maintained. However, much remains to be done in the global campaign against Daesh. Daesh will remain a threat, whether they hold territory or not. We have already seen indications over the past year in Iraq and Syria of Daesh transitioning to a clandestine network. We remain committed to the Global Coalition and its objective of ensuring Daesh's enduring defeat.

Asked on: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Syria: Military Intervention
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they were first made aware of the decision by the government of the United States to withdraw all United States troops from Syria announced by President Trump on 19 December 2018; and what assessment they have made of the government of the United States' announcement on the same day that it is transitioning to the "next phase of the campaign".
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​The Foreign Secretary spoke with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 19 December with regard to President Trump's decision, and senior officials have been in close contact with their US counterparts on the implementation of this decision. As the US has acknowledged, much remains to be done to maintain the successful progress achieved in the global campaign against Daesh. We, like the US, remain committed to the Global Coalition and its objective of ensuring Daesh's enduring defeat.

Asked on: 09 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Iraq: Politics and Government
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current political situation in Iraq; what progress has been made in the formation of the government; and what assistance the UK can offer.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​We are pleased to see progress on the formation of a Cabinet, including the key posts of Minister for Foreign Affairs, who I spoke to on 20 December, and Finance Minister. We encourage swift announcement of the remaining Cabinet members.

We will continue to support the Government of Iraq in its efforts to deliver the reforms needed to rebuild public trust in the Iraqi state and unite all Iraqis against extremism. We are encouraging progress on economic and security sector reform and reinforcing the importance of political reconciliation, which is critical to winning the peace post-Daesh. The UK is assisting the Government of Iraq to re-establish security, basic services and inclusive local governance in areas formerly under Daesh control. Through funding and diplomatic efforts, we are also supporting the development of inclusive and representative reconciliation processes at both national and community level.

Asked on: 09 January 2019
Department for International Development
World Bank: Public Appointments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make any representations to the government of the United States about the appointment of a new President of the World Bank, following the resignation of the current President, Jim Yong Kim, three years before the end of his term, in view of calls for an open, transparent and merit-based process.
A
Answered by: Lord Bates
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The UK strongly supports an open, transparent and merit-based process for selection of the next President of the World Bank Group. We will engage with all World Bank Group shareholders, including the United States, during this process.

Asked on: 09 January 2019
Department for Transport
Aviation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to work with the EU to provide reassurance to airlines about their flying rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The Government continues to advocate the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement, which will ensure an orderly departure from the EU.

Nevertheless, the Government has a duty to plan for the alternative. The Department’s aviation technical notices, together with the European Commission’s published plans for aviation contingency preparations and most recently their proposed EU regulations published on 19 December clearly demonstrate that, in the event of no deal, both sides are committed to maintaining connectivity.

We look forward to engaging with the Commission and other Member States on the detail of the proposed EU legislative measures to ensure that they deliver the continuity of services that both the EU and the UK want to see.

Q
Asked by Lord Berkeley
Asked on: 10 January 2019
Department for Transport
Ramsgate Port: Channel Ferries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they had with the Mayor of Ostend before awarding a contract to Seaborne Freight to operate ferry services from Ramsgate to Ostend from 29 March; and given the Mayor’s statement that the port will not be ready in time, what alternative port arrangements they intend to make.
A
Answered by: Baroness Sugg
Answered on: 21 January 2019

Port contracts are a matter for operators. Operators on other routes (including Brittany Ferries and DFDS with whom the Government has also contracted) will be used for scheduled ro-ro traffic if Ostend is not ready by 29 March. The majority of the additional freight capacity which has been contracted is not via Ostend.

Q
Asked on: 10 January 2019
Ministry of Justice
Criminal Proceedings: Interpreters
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect to bring forward measures to ensure that Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament, providing for the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, will be incorporated into UK statute before 29 March; and if so, when.
A
Answered by: Lord Keen of Elie
Answered on: 21 January 2019

Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings was transposed into UK domestic law by 27 October 2013 when it came into force. The Government has no plan currently to alter those provisions.

Asked on: 10 January 2019
Department for Education
Apprentices: Taxation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of proposals from the UK's screen industries and others for reform of the apprenticeship levy to increase the numbers of skilled new entrants needed to meet demand.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 21 January 2019

​Apprenticeships offer businesses in the screen industries an opportunity to make a long-term, sustainable investment in training and promote diversity in the workforce.

We have already responded to feedback from businesses by introducing flexibilities in our funding rules. This includes increasing the time for employers to spend their levy funds from 18 to 24 months and raising the transfer cap from 10% to 25% this year. Levy-paying employers will be able to transfer funds to as many smaller employers or charities as they wish, in order to support the development of skills in their supply chain or respond to skills shortages in their sector. In the Budget, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced up to £240 million of additional funds to halve apprenticeship training costs for smaller employers. We continue to keep all aspects of apprenticeship funding policy under review.

​We recognise that co-ordinating and delivering apprenticeship training can be a challenge for smaller employers in the screen industries. We are working closely with Screen Skills in response to their report in order to explore how employers can take advantage of flexible delivery of off-the-job training including, potentially, through Apprenticeship Training Agencies. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has a £2 million funding package under the creative industries sector deal, which includes support for employers to help them accelerate the development of up to 20 new apprenticeship standards. DCMS will work with the Institute for Apprenticeships to identify skills gaps and understand how the apprenticeship programme can support the priorities identified in the Industrial Strategy.

Asked on: 10 January 2019
Leader of the House of Lords
Brexit: Parliamentary Scrutiny
Lords
To ask the Leader of the House whether she intends to invite the House of Lords to sit on Fridays until 29 March in order to allow time for proper scrutiny of pre-Brexit legislation.
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The next scheduled Friday sitting is for 1 February, as advertised in Forthcoming Business. Further sittings will be advertised in due course. There are currently no plans to consider Government business on Fridays, but as is always the case the sittings of the House are subject to the progress of business.

Asked on: 10 January 2019
Leader of the House of Lords
Brexit: Parliamentary Scrutiny
Lords
To ask the Leader of the House whether she intends to invite the House to sit on Saturdays until 29 March in order to allow time for proper scrutiny of pre-Brexit legislation.
Answered on: 21 January 2019

There are currently no plans to sit on weekends. As is always the case, the sittings of the House are subject to the progress of business.

Asked on: 10 January 2019
The Senior Deputy Speaker
Parliament: Correspondence
Lords
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker how many items of correspondence were received in the Palace of Westminster in 2018; and of those, how many were received in the House of Lords.
A
Answered by: Lord Laming
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The Senior Deputy Speaker has asked me, as Chairman of the Services Committee, to respond on his behalf. In total, 1,519,939 items of mail were received on the Parliamentary Estate in 2018. The destination of mail is not recorded but it is estimated that approximately 30 per cent of these items were destined for the House of Lords. These figures do not include parcels, courier items or internal mail.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 10 January 2019
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Bahrain: Political Prisoners
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Bahrain about the release of Sayed Nazar Alwadaei, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor and Hajar Mansoor Hassan, following the statement by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on 9 January that they were held because of their family ties with Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei.
A
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The British Embassy in Bahrain and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continue to monitor the cases of Sayed Nazar Al-Wadaei, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor and Hajar Mansoor Hassan. We have raised these cases at a senior level with the Government of Bahrain. We have received assurances from the Bahraini authorities that there have been no reprisals against the family members of Mr Alwadaei.

Q
(Newport East)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 10 January 2019
Home Office
Visas: Married People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many premium service spousal visa applications for settlement in the UK have been processed in each month from January 2018 to January 2019.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 21 January 2019

Information on out of country applications for settlement visas and processing performance against service standards is published in the Migration Transparency data, table Visa01, latest edition at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/international-operations-transparency-data-november-2018

The latest data show the vast majority 97.0% of straightforward cases were dealt with within customer service standards.

Q
(Feltham and Heston)
Asked on: 11 January 2019
Ministry of Justice
Young Offender Institutions: Visits
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of young offenders in each Young Offenders Institution were allowed (a) weekly visits, (b) a visit every two weeks and (c) more than one visit a week in the last calendar month for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Edward Argar
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost as it is not held centrally.

Q
Asked by Louise Haigh
(Sheffield, Heeley)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 January 2019
Home Office
Violent and Sex Offender Register
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of home visits that the police have made to registered sex offenders in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Mr Nick Hurd
Answered on: 21 January 2019

The UK has some of the toughest powers in the world to deal with sex offenders and we are committed to ensuring that the system is as robust as it can be.

Registered sex offenders are managed in the community by the police, who are best placed to identify their risks and determine how frequently they conduct home visits.

In 2017, the police made key changes to their management regime. Officers can now determine the frequency of home visits as part of a personalised risk management plan, instead of visiting all offenders a set number of times based on their risk category. Importantly, success is not measured solely by the completion of home visits, but through careful consideration of a range of factors, including the quality of the risk management plan and their progress in completing actions.

We continue to work with the Police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that the right powers are available for the authorities to tackle sexual crimes and to bring perpetrators to justice.

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