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 2014-15 session below. This is a new service and we welcome your feedback so we can improve it.

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Unique Indentifying 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 Lord Judd
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Cabinet Office
National Security Council
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that National Security Council country strategies are informed by critical analysis and by in-country stakeholders.
A
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review set out the long term direction to meet the strategic objectives of ensuring domestic security and resilience, and shaping a stable world. The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, comprising members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, scrutinises the National Security Strategy and the structures for government decision-making on national security, particularly the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Security Adviser.

The NSC brings together departments, including DFID, to take collective decisions, balancing the mutually–reinforcing elements of national security including domestic, foreign, development, defence and economic policy. The NSC has introduced, from April 20145, the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund and associated governance reforms. Together these looking systematically at deployed overseas dealing with the risk of instability. links NSC strategic decision making with programmes on the ground.

Grouped Questions: HL4522 | HL4523 | HL4524 | HL4526
Q
Asked by Lord Judd
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Cabinet Office
National Security Council
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that National Security Council objectives are scrutinised by Parliament.
A
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review set out the long term direction to meet the strategic objectives of ensuring domestic security and resilience, and shaping a stable world. The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, comprising members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, scrutinises the National Security Strategy and the structures for government decision-making on national security, particularly the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Security Adviser.

The NSC brings together departments, including DFID, to take collective decisions, balancing the mutually–reinforcing elements of national security including domestic, foreign, development, defence and economic policy. The NSC has introduced, from April 20145, the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund and associated governance reforms. Together these looking systematically at deployed overseas dealing with the risk of instability. links NSC strategic decision making with programmes on the ground.

Grouped Questions: HL4522 | HL4523 | HL4524 | HL4525
Q
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations to the government of the United States about the lawsuit brought by Hershey's against import of Cadbury's chocolate products made in England.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 05 February 2015

Her Majesty’s Government has made no representations in this case. This is a commercial dispute between Hershey’s (as the licenced manufacturer and distributor of Cadbury products within the USA) and a US importer. This dispute relies upon well-known rules and principles and the companies involved have the right to take issues such as this to the judicial authorities in the appropriate territory.

Q
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
USA
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to take any steps against any Hershey's products manufactured in the United Kingdom while that company pursues its action in the United States courts against Cadbury products made in England.
A
Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Answered on: 05 February 2015

Her Majesty’s Government currently has no intention of taking any steps against Hershey around the facts of this case. This is a commercial dispute between Hershey’s (as the licenced manufacturer and distributor of Cadbury products within the USA) and a US importer. This dispute relies upon well known rules and principles and the companies involved have the right to take issues such as this to the judicial authorities in the appropriate territory.

Q
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chocolate: EU Action
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to make representations at European Union level in respect of the use of the word "chocolate" to describe products containing less than 20 per cent chocolate.
A
Answered by: Lord De Mauley
Answered on: 05 February 2015

There are currently no plans to make representations at European Level on the use of the word chocolate.

The Cocoa and Chocolate Products (England) Regulations 2003 set out the composition and standards for chocolate including definitions. Chocolate shall not contain less than 35 per cent total dry cocoa solids and milk chocolate or family milk chocolate not less than 20 per cent total dry cocoa solids.

There are rules in place under the Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulations EU No 1169/2011 to ensure the consumer is not misled. Quantitative ingredient declarations (QUID) apply to all pre packed foods. This means that where chocolate is a characterising ingredient e.g. a chocolate cake, the percentage of the chocolate has to be declared in the ingredients list.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Northern Ireland Office
Terrorism: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement by Baroness Randerson on 27 January (HL Deb, cols 127–31), whether they will confirm that no blank letters were given to Sinn Fein to distribute to "on-the-runs" of its choosing.
A
Answered by: Baroness Randerson
Answered on: 05 February 2015

I confirm that no such letters were given to Sinn Fein.

Q
Asked by Lord Laird
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Northern Ireland Office
Terrorism: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement by Baroness Randerson on 27 January that the "on-the-runs" scheme had been closed down in an orderly manner (HL Deb, col 130), what steps they took, and over what time period, to close down the scheme.
A
Answered by: Baroness Randerson
Answered on: 05 February 2015

When the Government took office in May 2010, we allowed the administrative scheme to deal with so-called ‘on the runs’ established by the previous administration in 2000 to continue. We did this on the basis that the letters issued under the scheme did not confer immunity, exemption or amnesty from prosecution. In August 2012, the then-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Attorney-General decided that it would not be appropriate for the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to accept any new cases, and that any fresh cases should be referred directly to the devolved police and prosecuting authorities. No letters have been issued by the NIO since December 2012, and on 7 March 2014 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland confirmed the scheme was an end. On publication of the Hallett Report on 17 July 2014, the Secretary of State repeated that, as far as this Government are concerned, the scheme is over.

In response to the recommendation in the Hallett report to confirm whether any element of the ‘on the runs’ scheme still exists, the Secretary of State made clear in her statement of 9 September 2014 that the scheme is now at an end. Recipients of letters under the scheme should not place any reliance on them as a protection against prosecution should the required evidential tests be met.

Q
Asked by Pamela Nash
(Airdrie and Shotts)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
HM Treasury
Pensions: Tax Allowances
Commons
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much was paid in tax relief on private pensions for (a) higher rate taxpayers, (b) additional rate tax payers in each of the last five years up to the most recent period for which records are available.
A
Answered by: Andrea Leadsom
Answered on: 05 February 2015

I refer the hon Member to the answer that was given on 10 December 2014 to the hon Member for Cardiff South and Penarth, PQ 215992.

Grouped Questions: 222297
Q
Asked by Chris Ruane
(Vale of Clwyd)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2015, to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East to Question 220713, what recent estimate he has made of the number of people residing in outbuildings in the UK.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 05 February 2015

This information is not held centrally. It is for local authorities to use their wide range of legal powers to take action against illegal outbuildings.

Q
(Brent North)
[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: 28 January 2015
Department for Communities and Local Government
Fracking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, whether planning guidance provides for a specific approach to planning for hydraulic fracturing in a) national parks, (b) the Broads, (c) areas of outstanding natural beauty and (d) world heritage sites.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 05 February 2015
Holding answer received on 02 February 2015

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement of 28 July 2014, Official Report, House of Lords, Column WS141, which outlines the current planning guidance in place on this issue.

Planning applications for shale extraction are considered under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, like any other local planning application.

In January, we published a plain English guide to the planning system which explains the limited role of Ministers. It can be found online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/plain-english-guide-to-the-planning-system

Grouped Questions: 222626 | 222627
Q
(Brent North)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Energy and Climate Change
Fracking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what information his Department holds about the arrangements by which hydraulic fracturing companies publish evidence of how their commitments under the industry's community engagement charter scheme have been meet each year.
A
Answered by: Matthew Hancock
Answered on: 05 February 2015

Details of the package can be found on the website of the industry trade body UK Onshore Oil and Gas at: http://www.ukoog.org.uk/community/benefits

Q
(Brent North)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Energy and Climate Change
Fracking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what assessment he has made of the effect of depth limits for hydraulic fracturing on (a) fugitive emissions and (b) safety.
A
Answered by: Matthew Hancock
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The risks of each project involving hydraulic fracturing can only be assessed in the light of the specific circumstances, including the geological and hydrogeological context. The risk of fugitive emissions and the safety aspects are assessed by expert regulators on a case-by-case basis as part of the environmental permitting and Health and Safety procedures.

The UK has decades of experience in safely conducting surface activities and constructing onshore gas wells, regulated by the Health & Safety Executive, and techniques to reduce emissions (“green completions”) have been made a requirement of environmental permits for shale gas production.

Q
(Brent North)
[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: 28 January 2015
Department for Communities and Local Government
Fracking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, whether he has the power to overturn a decision on an application for hydraulic fracturing in (a) national parks, (b) the Broads, (c) areas of outstanding natural beauty and (d) world heritage sites.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 05 February 2015
Holding answer received on 02 February 2015

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement of 28 July 2014, Official Report, House of Lords, Column WS141, which outlines the current planning guidance in place on this issue.

Planning applications for shale extraction are considered under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, like any other local planning application.

In January, we published a plain English guide to the planning system which explains the limited role of Ministers. It can be found online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/plain-english-guide-to-the-planning-system

Grouped Questions: 222552 | 222627
Q
(Brent North)
[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: 28 January 2015
Department for Communities and Local Government
Fracking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what grounds current planning guidance provides for not refusing an application for hydraulic fracturing in (a) national parks, (b) the Broads, (c) areas of outstanding natural beauty and (d) world heritage sites.
A
Answered by: Brandon Lewis
Answered on: 05 February 2015
Holding answer received on 02 February 2015

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement of 28 July 2014, Official Report, House of Lords, Column WS141, which outlines the current planning guidance in place on this issue.

Planning applications for shale extraction are considered under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, like any other local planning application.

In January, we published a plain English guide to the planning system which explains the limited role of Ministers. It can be found online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/plain-english-guide-to-the-planning-system

Grouped Questions: 222552 | 222626
Q
(Brent North)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Department for Energy and Climate Change
Fracking
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what criteria must be met for a person to be eligible to perform the role of independent well examiner for a hydraulic fracturing development.
A
Answered by: Matthew Hancock
Answered on: 05 February 2015

There is a legal requirement for the well operator to appoint an independent well examiner for the complete lifecycle of the well. UK regulations establish the level of independence required in that the examiner can be from the same company as the well operator but must be separate from any management and financial systems that could compromise objectivity. To date onshore operators have used separate companies to supply this service, they have not been delivered in-house.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors are made aware of the identity of the independent well examiner and will consider their level of competence and independence as part of the inspection of the well examination scheme for each onshore oil or gas well. If there is any concern about the level of competence or independence of the well examiner HSE inspectors will investigate and take appropriate action.

Q
(North Durham)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Advertising
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what his Department's advertising budget was in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
A
Answered by: Mr David Lidington
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not have a dedicated advertising budget. Budgets are delegated to Posts across the world and departments in London and it would not be possible to aggregate any spending without incurring disproportionate cost.

Q
Asked by John Mann
(Bassetlaw)
[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: 28 January 2015
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Visits Abroad
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who, other than Ministers of the Crown and members of the Diplomatic Service, has been sent from the UK to represent the Government at inaugurations of foreign Heads of State and government since May 2010; and what the cost was of that representation in each such case.
A
Answered by: Mr David Lidington
Answered on: 05 February 2015

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 16 January 2015 (PQ 219962) given by The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire).

Q
Asked by Jenny Willott
(Cardiff Central)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Home Office
Safety Deposit Boxes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the number of safety deposit boxes across the UK; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Lynne Featherstone
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The Home Office does not have an estimate of the numbers of safety deposit boxes available across the United Kingdom, and we have not had any discussions on this matter.

However, the Crime Prevention Panel, which is chaired by myself and supported by Home Office officials, has been looking at the safe storage of gold jewellery and other valuable items, both in people’s homes and in external
storage facilities.

Grouped Questions: 222398 | 222399
Q
Asked by Jenny Willott
(Cardiff Central)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Home Office
Safety Deposit Boxes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions her Department has had with (a) banks, (b) solicitors and (c) other providers on the availability of safety deposit boxes across the UK; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Lynne Featherstone
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The Home Office does not have an estimate of the numbers of safety deposit boxes available across the United Kingdom, and we have not had any discussions on this matter.

However, the Crime Prevention Panel, which is chaired by myself and supported by Home Office officials, has been looking at the safe storage of gold jewellery and other valuable items, both in people’s homes and in external
storage facilities.

Grouped Questions: 222397 | 222399
Q
Asked by Jenny Willott
(Cardiff Central)
Asked on: 28 January 2015
Home Office
Safety Deposit Boxes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions her Department has had with suppliers of safety deposit facilities on ensuring that the annual cost of hiring and using such facilities is kept at a reasonable level; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Lynne Featherstone
Answered on: 05 February 2015

The Home Office does not have an estimate of the numbers of safety deposit boxes available across the United Kingdom, and we have not had any discussions on this matter.

However, the Crime Prevention Panel, which is chaired by myself and supported by Home Office officials, has been looking at the safe storage of gold jewellery and other valuable items, both in people’s homes and in external
storage facilities.

Grouped Questions: 222397 | 222398
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