Mr Gavin Shuker Written Questions

Questions to All Government Departments tabled by Mr Gavin Shuker


Date Title Questioner
8 Oct 2019, 4:21 p.m. Rule of Law Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the rule of law.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor meet regularly and discuss a range of matters. The Lord Chancellor has sworn an oath to respect the rule of law and to defend the judiciary. It is an oath he takes very seriously. The government will always abide by the law.

16 Jul 2019, 3:54 p.m. Overseas Aid Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the UK meets its ODA obligations in the event that the UK leave the European Union without a deal.

Answer (Dr Andrew Murrison)

The Department, working with Treasury and other Government departments, is always planning for contingencies to ensure that the UK meets its ODA obligations. The consequences of leaving the European Union without a deal come within this broader contingency planning.

15 Jul 2019, 11:56 a.m. UK Visas and Immigration: Biometrics Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what criteria his Department uses to determine the locations in the UK where biometric information for visa or immigration applications can be provided.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The majority of customers will be able to submit their biometrics and supporting information for their visa application via a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UK VCAS) centre, which are run by Sopra Steria Ltd (SSL) on behalf of UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI). However, Individuals who have higher needs, may be vulnerable, or whose circumstances may be complex and would benefit from face to face interaction with the Home Office are directed to Service and Support Centres (SSC) where they will receive support with their application. The SSCs are all based in pre-existing locations which were previously used as premium service centres, which broadly align with the postal districts of our customers.

There are currently six core UKVCAS service points and seven core SSC’s across the UK at which application submission services are offered. The SSCs are based in Belfast, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Solihull.

SSL undertook market research to identify initial service locations for the UKVCAS service points; their research included the impact on customer travel time, cost and accessibility. Beyond that, SSL offer a range of enhanced services in a further 50 UKVCAS locations. These services enable customers to submit their biometric information (photo and fingerprints) and supporting evidence in one location. 62% of customers will, on average, have to travel less than 25 miles to visit a core service centre, with 78% travelling less than 50 miles. Appointments may be offered for individual customers and/or family groups to enrol their biometrics together.

15 Jul 2019, 11:49 a.m. Electric Vehicles: Charging Points Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many publicly available charge-points for electric vehicles there were in (a) Luton, (b) Bedfordshire and (c) the East of England in each year since 2010.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

The Government does not have figures on the total number of publicly available electric vehicle chargepoints. Members of the public and businesses are able to install chargepoints without government support, and information on these are not routinely collected. As at 10th July 2019 the private sector charging point platform Zap-map reported that there are 1,607 in the East of England. Figures for Luton and Bedfordshire are not currently available.

15 Jul 2019, 10:46 a.m. Railways: Electrification Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what proportion of rail passenger journeys take place (a) wholly and (b) for at least 50 per cent of the journey by distance on electrified sections of the railway network in Great Britain.

Answer (Andrew Jones)

The Office of Rail and Road publishes data on electrified rail routes in Great Britain. However, this includes routes open to passengers and freight and does not contain a breakdown for passengers only.

The length of network rail operated electrified route in Great Britain was 3,583 miles in 2017-18. This represents 36% of the total mainline railway route.

This data is available at the following link:

https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/displayreport/report/html/c35e0c28-324f-4168-81b9-be197963f251

4 Jul 2019, 10:03 a.m. European Parliament: Elections Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 24 June 2019 to Question 268457 on European Parliament: elections, whether the Government received such legal advice after 23 May 2019.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

Ministers regularly receive legal advice on a variety of topics to aid the decision making process.

4 Jul 2019, 9:22 a.m. Railways: Luton Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with East Midlands Trains on northbound services that fail to stop at (a) Luton and (b) Luton Airport Parkway under the existing timetable.

Answer (Andrew Jones)

Trains continue to call at Luton Airport Parkway in the peaks. The Department attends monthly Industry forums which discuss the future timetable development of passengers services on the Midlands Main Line, and the expected reinstatement of East Midlands peak service calls at Luton and Bedford.

1 Jul 2019, 9:43 a.m. East-West Rail Link Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the level of greenhouse gas emissions of the decision to exclude electrification from the scope of the Western Phase of the East West Rail project.

Answer (Andrew Jones)

The publicly available Environmental Statement which was prepared as part of the TWAO for the Western Section, includes a robust assessment of emissions from diesel trains during the operation of the Order Scheme, as well as construction and operational road traffic emissions.

Passive provision for electrification is being provided in the construction of the Western Section allowing electrification to be implemented in the future should it represent good value for money.

The East West Railway Company is continuing to work with government and other agencies to explore options for a local natural capital plan for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc as a whole, and to support the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan.

27 Jun 2019, 9:57 a.m. European Parliament: Elections Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government has received legal advice on its recent performance of its obligations under Article 20(2)(b) TFEU to guarantee EU citizens resident in the UK the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament under the same conditions as UK nationals.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Government took all the legal steps necessary to prepare for the European Parliamentary
elections and put in place all the legislative and funding elements to enable Returning Officers to
make their preparations required for the polls on 23 May.

The necessity for EU citizens to complete a UC1 form to be able to vote in European Parliamentary
elections implements a requirement under EU law. This is not a new requirement and has been in
place for previous European Parliamentary elections. Similar provisions apply to UK citizens living
in other EU Member States

As with any election we will reflect on proceedings and outcomes. In line with their statutory duty,
the Electoral Commission will be publishing a report into the administration of the polls later this
year, which the Government will consider in due course.

24 Jun 2019, 4:49 p.m. Asthma: Prescriptions Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential public health benefits of including asthma as a medical exemption from prescription charges.

Answer (Seema Kennedy)

The Department has made no assessment. Extensive arrangements are already in place to help people access National Health Service prescriptions. These include a broad range of NHS prescription charge exemptions for which someone with asthma may qualify.

To support those with the greatest need who do not qualify for an exemption, the cost of the prescription pre-payment certificates has been frozen for another year. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just £2 per week.

24 Jun 2019, 1:27 p.m. Cryptocurrencies: Regulation Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the UK.

Answer (John Glen)

The Government established the Cryptoassets Taskforce - comprised of HM Treasury, the FCA, and the Bank of England – to explore the risks and potential benefits of cryptoassets and consider the appropriate response. The Taskforce’s report[1] set out commitments to further consider the regulatory approach to cryptoassets.

The Government has recently consulted on plans to go beyond the requirements set out in the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive to bring all relevant cryptoasset firms into anti-money laundering regulation.

The Government will consult on its approach to unregulated cryptoassets later this year.

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/752070/cryptoassets_taskforce_final_report_final_web.pdf

20 Jun 2019, 3:59 p.m. Dogs: Steroid Drugs Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to ensure continuity of supply for steroid treatments for dogs in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Answer (David Rutley)

The Government recognises the importance of veterinary medicines in ensuring animal health and welfare in the UK.

The Government is working with the animal medicines industry to ensure that supplies of veterinary medicines remain available in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

20 Jun 2019, 1:53 p.m. Tyres: Safety Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the re-sale of illegal second-hand automobile tyres; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

The Government is committed to improving road safety, and ensuring the ongoing compliance of vehicles with safety regulations is important to reducing collisions and casualties.

The sale of part worn tyres is regulated by the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994. Trading Standards has responsibility for enforcing these regulations and upon successful prosecution for failure to comply with the requirements, magistrates’ courts can impose penalties of up to 6-months imprisonment or an unlimited fine in England and Wales (or up to £5000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

20 Jun 2019, 9:28 a.m. Steroid Drugs Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure continuity of supply for steroid treatments in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Answer (Stephen Hammond)

The Government remains committed to leaving the European Union with a deal. However, as a responsible Government, we will continue to prepare to minimise any disruption to the supply of medicines and medical products in a potential ‘no deal’ scenario.

The Government fully understands that maintaining access to steroid treatments is vitally important to many people in this country. We are continuing to work with trade bodies and other stakeholders to carefully review the implications of the extension to the Article 50 period until 31 October at the latest, before sharing further guidance with industry at the earliest opportunity.

On 26 April we wrote to suppliers advising that, until further guidance is provided, all no-deal measures (such as stockpiles, additional buffer stocks, etc) should remain in place but on hold.

4 Jun 2019, 2:10 p.m. Model Aircraft: Registration Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the financial effect of the forthcoming Drone Registration Scheme on model flying clubs.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

The Government has tasked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with developing and operating the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Registration and Education Scheme to improve the accountability of all users of small unmanned aircraft, whether they be drones or model aircraft, and their awareness of how to fly them safely. The CAA has recently published its consultation on the proposed charge to cover the cost of running this service. The proposed charge balances keeping the charge for registration as low as possible and ensuring that the scheme funds itself. Consultation responses will inform the CAA’s final decision on the charge, which will be taken in July 2019. The proposals will be in line with forthcoming requirements from the European Aviation Safety Agency.

4 Jun 2019, 12:16 p.m. Animal Welfare Act 2006 Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to provide local authorities with the resources to enforce the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Answer (David Rutley)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Bridgend, Madeleine Moon, on 22 May 2019, PQ 256270.

23 May 2019, 2:40 p.m. Motor Sports: Females Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to promote women’s participation in motorsport.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The government is determined to get more girls and women taking part in sport in a way that suits them, something we set out in our sport strategy, Sporting Future. Motor sports and motor cycling clubs and associations are eligible to apply to Sport England for funding and I would encourage them to consider this as an option to help increase participation.

I also welcome the recently launched W Series, including a race in the UK. The W Series will showcase women's motorsport to an international audience and provide new routes into the sport for women. I applaud the decision of Channel 4 to broadcast the W Series in the UK, celebrating female racing talent and hopefully inspiring a new generation of fans.

20 Dec 2018, 5:55 p.m. Post Offices: Luton Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations his Department has received on the closure of the main post office in central Luton.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office and allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business.  This strategy, backed by Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010, has delivered a branch network that is at its most stable and accessible in decades, with over 11,500 branches and 99.7% of the UK population living within 3 miles of their nearest branch.  This investment in the Post Office has also led to other benefits to the consumer including an extra 200,000 opening hours per week and over 7,500 modernised branches.

There is no Post Office closure or privatisation programme and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has not received any representations on the franchising of the Post Office in Luton. The Post Office ran a 6-week public consultation from 24 October 2018 to 5 December 2018 and will write to locally elected representatives, Consumer Advocacy Bodies and respondents to the consultation on its decisions and plans.

20 Dec 2018, 5:53 p.m. Post Offices: Luton Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the economic effect on (a) local businesses and (b) local communities of the closure of dedicated high street post offices in Luton.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. There is no post office closure programme in Luton or across the UK, however, post offices are being franchised and this is an operational matter for the Post Office. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

20 Dec 2018, 5:51 p.m. Post Offices: Standards Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of whether post offices that have been integrated within other stores are providing the same level of service as dedicated post office branches.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Hosting or franchising of Post Office branches an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

29 Nov 2018, 4:38 p.m. Aviation Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the aviation industry can continue without disruption after the UK leaves the EU.

Answer (Chris Grayling)

The Government and EU have agreed the text of a Withdrawal Agreement which includes provision for a transition or implementation period after we leave the EU. During this period flights will continue as now. We have also agreed a Political Declaration on the broad terms of our future relationship with the EU. This confirms that the future relationship for aviation will be set out in a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement which will provide for market access for UK and EU airlines.

29 Nov 2018, 1:17 p.m. Railways: Tickets Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps his Department has taken to expand the Oyster card system beyond London.

Answer (Andrew Jones)

We have invested £80m so that passengers have a smart option for almost all journeys across the network by the end of the year; this is in addition to our £150 million commitment to smart ticketing in the North. Our goal is to ensure that across regional and urban commuter areas smart ticketing is able to deliver the kind of pay as you go structure used in London.

29 Nov 2018, 12:12 p.m. Social Services: Finance Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his long-term plans are for the adult social care precept after 2019-20.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

Funding for Local Government after 2019-20 will be agreed at the Spending Review next year.

26 Oct 2018, 7:54 a.m. East Midlands Rail Franchise Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Rail Review announced on 11 October 2018 on the timing of the East Midlands franchise process; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Joseph Johnson)

When the Rail Review was announced on 20 September 2018 the Government made clear in its statement that, with the exception of the Cross Country franchise, all other ongoing franchise competitions (including the East Midlands franchise) and other live rail projects are continuing as planned.

11 Jun 2018, 2:33 p.m. India: Pakistan Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that the recent ceasefire between India and Pakistan (a) lasts and (b) marks the beginning of a peace process in the region.

Answer (Mark Field)

The Government is concerned by recent reports of high levels of firing and shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops over the Line of Control in Kashmir. We continue to follow developments closely, encourage dialogue and call for both sides to exercise restraint. The UK's longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to act as a mediator. We welcome recent contact between Indian and Pakistani militaries in an effort to reduce firing over the Line of Control.

8 Jun 2018, 12:58 p.m. Rohingya: Sexual Offences Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps her Department is taking to tackle sexual exploitation and trafficking of Rohingya refugee women and girls.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

We recognise that Rohingya women and girls face risks in the camps including domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced labour and sexual exploitation. DFID is helping to provide services including psycho-social counselling, reproductive health services, child-friendly spaces, safe shelters and legal advice in the camps. We are also providing essential help in the camps such as improved lighting and alarms to help keep women and girls safer.

8 Jun 2018, 12:58 p.m. Bangladesh: Sexual Offences Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment she has made of the risk of sexual exploitation of women and girls at refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

We recognise that Rohingya women and girls face risks in the camps including domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced labour and sexual exploitation. DFID is helping to provide services including psycho-social counselling, reproductive health services, child-friendly spaces, safe shelters and legal advice in the camps. We are also providing essential help in the camps such as improved lighting and alarms to help keep women and girls safer.

8 Jun 2018, 12:56 p.m. Yemen: Storms Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the effect on access to clean drinking water in Yemen of the recent cyclone in that country.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

Two tropical cyclones – Sagar and Mekunu – hit parts of Yemen in the second half of May. Early reports indicate that the damage was most severe on the island of Socotra, where the water network has been damaged and floods are increasing the risk of waterborne diseases. The humanitarian community has started to send emergency supplies, including hygiene kits and chlorine to purify water to Socotra, and a UN team is working with the local authorities to assess further needs and coordinate response efforts.

Some 16 million Yemenis require support to meet their basic water, sanitation and hygiene needs. The UK’s support of £170 million to Yemen this financial year (2018/19) is helping to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene services to Yemen.

8 Jun 2018, 12:54 p.m. Yemen: Storms Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the effect on medical facilities in Yemen of the recent cyclone in that country.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

Two tropical cyclones – Sagar and Mekunu – hit parts of Yemen in the second half of May, with the most severe damage reported on the island of Socotra. A rapid assessment suggests that all the health facilities in Socotra are functioning but with low capacity and in urgent need of essential drugs. The humanitarian community has started to send shelter kits and other non-food items, as well as food and medical supplies to the island. A UN team is working with the local authorities to assess further needs and coordinate response efforts.

Only half of Yemen’s health facilities are fully functional and 16 million Yemenis require support to obtain healthcare. Our support of £170 million to Yemen this financial year (2018/19) includes support for improving the quality and availability of healthcare and medical supplies in Yemen.

24 May 2018, 4:19 p.m. Noura Hussein Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to (a) the government of Sudan and (b) other governments in that region on the case of Noura Hussein.

Answer (Harriett Baldwin)

The UK Ambassador to Sudan raised our deep concern about Noura Hussein's case at a senior level with the Government of Sudan on 15 May, making clear our strong opposition to the use of the death penalty and to forced marriage. We released a statement on the same day in partnership with EU member states and others confirming our firm opposition to the death penalty and calling on all States to join a moratorium on its use, while working towards its definitive abolition.

8 Mar 2018, 3:12 p.m. Firearms: Licensing Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the level of charges that GPs pass on to applicants for medical reports required for new or renewed shotgun and firearms certificates.

Answer (Steve Brine)

The Department has made no assessment on this issue.

8 Mar 2018, 3:12 p.m. Firearms: Licensing Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the number of GPs who are co-operating with the system of placing a marker on the medical notes of a person who has shotgun and firearm certificates.

Answer (Steve Brine)

The Department does not hold this information. The system is run by the Home Office.

7 Mar 2018, 4:07 p.m. Firearms: Licensing Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the number of shotgun and firearms certificates that have been granted where the applicant's doctor has not participated in the licensing process in the last three years.

Answer (Mr Nick Hurd)

In accordance with arrangements introduced in 2016, the police write to the GPs of those who apply for a firearms licence to seek relevant information regarding the applicant’s health before the licence is issued. We do not collect statistics on the number of certificates that have been granted without the applicant’s GP having participated in the process. However, reports from police forces and firearms licence applicants indicate that the participation rates amongst GPs are variable. We have been in discussions with the police, medical bodies and shooting representatives about how greater consistency can be achieved.

7 Mar 2018, 4:07 p.m. Firearms: Licensing Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what information her Department holds on the number of GPs in each police constabulary area who are not participating in the firearms licensing process.

Answer (Mr Nick Hurd)

In accordance with arrangements introduced in 2016, the police write to the GPs of those who apply for a firearms licence to seek relevant information regarding the applicant’s health before the licence is issued. We do not collect statistics on the number of certificates that have been granted without the applicant’s GP having participated in the process. However, reports from police forces and firearms licence applicants indicate that the participation rates amongst GPs are variable. We have been in discussions with the police, medical bodies and shooting representatives about how greater consistency can be achieved.

27 Feb 2018, 3:45 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support freedom of religion and belief in other countries to meet the strategic commitment to supporting freedom of religion and belief set out in the FCO Departmental Plan 2015-2020.

Answer (Mark Field)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Departmental Plan 2015-2020 was replaced in December 2017 with the FCO Single Departmental Plan which can be found on gov.uk. In step with the new plan, the FCO continues to promote and defend human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

In our ongoing dialogue with foreign governments and through public statements, the FCO raises individual cases and highlights practices and laws that discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or belief. For example, during my visit to Pakistan in November 2017, I raised the treatment of religious minorities, including discrimination and violence against the Ahmadiyya and Christian communities, with Pakistan's Ministry of Human Rights.

The United Kingdom also actively promotes FoRB through multilateral diplomacy. At the United Nations, we work to maintain consensus on the adoption and implementation of the European Union sponsored Resolution on 'Freedom of Religion or Belief' and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation sponsored Resolution on 'Combating Religious Intolerance'.

Through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the FCO continues to support a number of projects to promote tolerance. Current projects include work to promote religious tolerance through secondary school curricula in Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon, and a project which supports a network of human rights defenders in South Asia working on this priority.

14 Feb 2018, 3:31 p.m. Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what projects in which countries were funded from his Department's Magna Carta Fund to support freedom of religion and belief in 2016-17.

Answer (Mark Field)

Her Majesty's Government places great importance on defending and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief. The Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy is one of the tools we use to achieve this goal. In 2016-17 we funded the following projects that supported freedom of religion or belief:

  • Creating Advocates for Freedom of Religion or Belief in developing countries (including, India and Indonesia)
  • Defending Freedom of Religion or Belief in South And Central Asia (including in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan).
  • Upholding Freedom Of Expression and Promoting Stable Pluralistic Societies In the MENA region (including Egypt).
  • Promoting Social Stability and Security through Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief in Central Asia (Tajikistan & Turkmenistan)

Due to sensitivities, we are unable to disclose details of all our projects to support freedom of religion or belief.

14 Feb 2018, 3:29 p.m. Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what positive outcomes for freedom of religion or belief were achieved from Magna Carta Fund funding in 2016-17.

Answer (Mark Field)

There have been a number of positive outcomes for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) from projects supported through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy in financial year 2016-17. These include:

A project delivered by the Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) Hardwired Inc has promoted tolerance in secondary school curricula in 50 schools in Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon. The Kurdish Regional Government has also asked for it to be shared with all children in their region.

The NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide is running a project to support human rights defenders in a number countries including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This project is raising awareness at the national, regional and international level of the unique challenges human rights defenders campaigning for FoRB face in South and Central Asia. The project is advocating for better protection for them by state authorities.

A project run by the Salzburg Global Seminar is increasing the capacity of institutions with educational missions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to combat extremism, prevent genocide and promote tolerance. There is particular emphasis on Rwanda, South Africa and Cambodia.

The Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy was also used to support projects to promote FoRB and tolerance in Burma, Tunisia, Egypt, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. These projects have strengthened civil society actors in those countries.

A project carried out by Cumberland Lodge has promoted greater understanding of FoRB issues and challenges amongst overseas students in the UK. This is sensitising them to these matters before their returning to their native countries where it is hoped they will act as informal advocates for human rights, including FoRB.

14 Feb 2018, 3:24 p.m. Diplomatic Service: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make Religious and Freedom of Religion or Belief Literacy training compulsory for diplomats serving in countries where violations are most prevalent.

Answer (Mark Field)

A specific course in Religion and Diplomacy is available to FCO staff designated to take up roles where an understanding of religion is key to their work. We will keep attendance at the course under review, but so far we do not see a need to make this training mandatory.

The FCO also runs seminars on specific themes. For example, Bishop Jonathan Goodall spoke to the FCO about Orthodox Christianity and foreign policy.

13 Feb 2018, 2:08 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to feed information gathered from roundtable meetings with civil society on freedom of religion or belief into its policy and programmes.

Answer (Mark Field)

The FCO minister of state with responsibilities for human rights, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, has hosted two roundtables to date. The first, on 23 October, looked at Burma in the light of the Rohingya crisis. The second, on 12 December, examined the role of women in tackling religiously motivated violent extremism. These roundtables have been excellent opportunities to hear the perspectives and insights of faith leaders.

13 Feb 2018, 1:51 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to use information from Stabilisation Unit meetings on enhancing understanding of freedom of religion or belief to inform (a) Government programmes and (b) the work of UK overseas posts to improve the way in which patterns of religious persecution are tackled.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The Stabilisation Unit works with Government Departments to facilitate cross-government conflict assessments which seek to understand the key characteristics of conflicts. Freedom of religion or belief is considered as part of this framework where relevant. These assessments inform wider Government programming, policy making ,and posts are able to draw on them to inform their programme work.

13 Feb 2018, 1:48 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many and which HM Ambassadors and High Commissioners responded to the letters that his Department sent asking them to report on their work to advance freedom of religion or belief.

Answer (Mark Field)

​So far ten heads of mission have formally responded to the letters Lord Ahmad and I sent. We have received substantive replies from Embassies or High Commissions in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan.

13 Feb 2018, 1:47 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in what way his Department is using the responses from HM Ambassadors and High Commissioners to its correspondence on their work to advance freedom of religion or belief in order to inform his Department's work in that area.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The responses we recieved from Her Majesty's Ambassadors and High Commissioners to our letters of 27 October 2017 and 28 November 2017 set out the main current and planned activities of their respective Embassies and High Commissions in the defence and promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). Officials will follow the progress of these activities and will evaluate outcomes in due course.

13 Feb 2018, 1:44 p.m. Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what the timetable is for the publication of the Government’s freedom of religion or belief strategy.

Answer (Mark Field)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is developing a work-plan and has a "toolkit" which supports our work to promote and defend freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). The toolkit is published and can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/561516/Freedom_of_Religion_or_Belief_Toolkit_-_2016.pdf. The work-plan addresses activity at multilateral human rights fora and in our bilateral diplomatic engagement with other states, as well as project work. Because of the sensitivities of some of the material contained, it would not be appropriate to publish the work.

12 Feb 2018, 4:08 p.m. Developing Countries: Religious Freedom Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how her Department conducts due diligence assessments and evaluates its partners’ commitment to UK Partnership Principles and to promoting freedom of religion or belief when determining the funding of governments and organisations.

Answer (Harriett Baldwin)

In determining UKAid funding to governments DFID assesses their commitment to each of four Partnership Principles. One of the Principles is commitment to human rights, which includes freedom of religion or belief. Evidence of lack of commitment to the Principles would influence choices on the level and the manner of aid provision. DFID contractual and grant arrangements used for organisations other than governments include specific clauses to prevent any discrimination against protected characteristics, including religion or belief.

25 Jan 2018, 5:33 p.m. Palestinians: Children Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Israeli counterparts on the detention of Palestinian children.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

The issue of children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. Our Embassy officials in Tel Aviv most recently raised the issue with the Israeli authorities on 16 January, and senior British Government officials raised this issue with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 8 January. I raised our concerns on this issue with the Israeli Government during my visit to Israel in August 2017

24 Jan 2018, 5:21 p.m. Yemen: Politics and Government Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment her Department has made of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The recent escalation in fighting and restrictions on commercial and humanitarian access threaten to push the country into catastrophic famine. The UN estimates that almost 18 million people in Yemen do not have reliable access to food and over 8 million people face extreme food shortages.

The International Development Secretary visited Djibouti and Saudi Arabia in December, where she announced a further £50 million in life-saving UK aid to provide food and fuel for millions of people. This announcement increased our support to Yemen to £205 million overall for this financial year (2017/18) making us the third-largest humanitarian donor to Yemen overall and the second-largest to the UN Humanitarian Appeal.

16 Jan 2018, 4:49 p.m. Cooperatives Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

What plans he has to increase his Department's support for the co-operative sector.

Answer (John Glen)

This Government recognises the value of co-operatives and their contribution to the diversity of the UK economy, and is strongly supportive of the sector.

For example, before Christmas, my Department legislated to increase the asset and turnover threshold at which co-operatives have to conduct a full audit from April this year.

The Government will continue to explore further ways to support the sector.

15 Jan 2018, 1:54 p.m. Overseas Companies Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department maintains a list of all UK companies which have a global turnover of more than (a) £16 million, (b) £26 million, (c) £36 million and (d) £46 million; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

The department does not maintain such a list of UK companies. However we engage with businesses of all sizes in order to understand their needs and priorities

4 Dec 2017, 5:13 p.m. HM Passport Office: Luton Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the five nearest Passport interview offices to Luton are by journey time; and what benchmark journey times his Department used in its decision to close the office in Luton.

Answer (Brandon Lewis)

Her Majesty’s Passport Office provides an online service where by entering their postcode, customers can find their nearest passport interview office. Find a passport interview office can be found on GOV.UK at the following address:

https://www.gov.uk/passport-interview-office

Minimising the impact upon customers was a key consideration in the decision to close the Luton interview office, with the distance and time for travel to the closest passport interview office in London being in line with many other parts of the UK.

23 Nov 2017, 5:37 p.m. HM Passport Office: Luton Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of HM Passport Office's customers resident in Luton are required to attend an interview when making an passport application.

Answer (Brandon Lewis)

Her Majesty’s Passport Office do not hold information on how many people in a particular area could be required to attend a passport application interview.

23 Nov 2017, 5:32 p.m. HM Passport Office: Luton Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many passport application interviews have been conducted at Luton HM Passport Office in each year since 2012.

Answer (Brandon Lewis)

Her Majesty’s Passport Office has conducted 55,064 interviews at the Luton Interview Office since 2012. The table below shows the number of annual passport interviews conducted.

Year

Interviews conducted at Luton Interview Office

2012

9347

2013

12236

2014

10650

2015

7839

2016

10083

2017*

4909

*part year data to 19/11/2017

12 Sep 2017, 1:10 p.m. Railways: Luton Airport Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the consultation document on East Midlands rail franchise, published in July 2017, whether his Department has considered the effect on the local economy of an increase in the number of fast trains from London to London Luton Airport to four an hour.

Answer (Paul Maynard)

The Department is still undertaking a process of information gathering to develop the specification for the next East Midlands rail franchise.

All options for future East Midlands services are subject to analysis of the potential benefits and consultation with stakeholders, which is currently ongoing. We are considering the case for additional services to Luton Airport and are working collaboratively with Luton Airport to understand their proposals. Any outcome will seek to secure the best value for money for the taxpayer, be in the best interests of passengers and the decisions will be taken using economic analysis, which includes social and environmental impacts.

The formal public consultation continues until 11 October and will inform the specification, I would strongly encourage the honourable Member to make his views known through the consultation process before it closes.

11 Sep 2017, 1:35 p.m. Railways: Luton Airport Mr Gavin Shuker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether consultation on the East Midlands rail franchise will take into account the volume of air passengers at London Luton Airport; and what assessment he has made of the (a) economic, (b) social and (c) environmental merits of improved rail services related to that franchise to that airport.

Answer (Paul Maynard)

All options for future East Midlands services are subject to analysis of the potential benefits and consultation with stakeholders, which is currently ongoing. This consultation explicitly raises the issue of services to Luton Airport Parkway.

The formal public consultation continues until 11 October and will inform the future franchise specification.