Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Written Questions

22 Questions to Government Departments tabled by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown


Date Title Questioner
8 Jan 2021, 4:05 p.m. Charitable Donations: Computer Software Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Church of England has made of the potential merits of establishing an app to enable contactless donations to be given via a QR code in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Andrew Selous)

The Church of England’s central purchasing facility ‘Parish Buying’ has been rolling out electronic and contactless giving across the parishes and cathedral since 2018. Parish Buying has negotiated a discounted rate for churches to take online donations given through GiveALittle. Nearly 2,000 churches have set up GiveALittle accounts so far.


The national Church is funding premium membership of this service for all parishes, enabling people to make gift aid declarations and to make regular monthly donations online. The GiveALittle system allows a church to publish a giving page or make a QR code available to enable people to give quickly and simply. Guidance for parishes is available here.

Training is available online for parishes on many giving issues, including online giving, and there is extensive guidance on both Parish Buying and Parish Resources websites. GiveALittle also has an app available for contactless devices, and this enables the public who may wish to donate to churches to continue to make donations. This year the Church will begin the rolling out of free contactless devices to half Church of England parishes, and many have already installed them following the successful trials in 2018.

28 Sep 2020, 3:11 p.m. Exports: VAT Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the potential number of job losses resulting from the ending of the VAT retail export scheme in the (a) retail and (b) tourism sectors.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government has announced that the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to EU visitors, and will be withdrawn for all non-EU visitors, following the end of the transition period. However, retailers will continue to be able to offer VAT-free shopping to non-EU visitors who purchase items in store and have them sent direct to their overseas addresses and this will be available to EU visitors following the end of the transition period.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government recognises the challenge these businesses face. The Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan on 24 September. This includes an extension to the temporary 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT on goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This alone provides continued support for the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protection for 2.4 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Plan also provides further support to businesses and jobs over the coming months.

28 Sep 2020, 3:11 p.m. Exports: VAT Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the cessation of the VAT retail export scheme on the UK’s position as an international destination.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government has announced that the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to EU visitors, and will be withdrawn for all non-EU visitors, following the end of the transition period. However, retailers will continue to be able to offer VAT-free shopping to non-EU visitors who purchase items in store and have them sent direct to their overseas addresses and this will be available to EU visitors following the end of the transition period.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government recognises the challenge these businesses face. The Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan on 24 September. This includes an extension to the temporary 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT on goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This alone provides continued support for the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protection for 2.4 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Plan also provides further support to businesses and jobs over the coming months.

28 Sep 2020, 3:11 p.m. Exports: VAT Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the cost of the VAT retail export scheme is to the public purse; and what estimate he has made of the savings that will accrue to the public purse as a result of the cessation of that scheme.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government has announced that the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to EU visitors, and will be withdrawn for all non-EU visitors, following the end of the transition period. However, retailers will continue to be able to offer VAT-free shopping to non-EU visitors who purchase items in store and have them sent direct to their overseas addresses and this will be available to EU visitors following the end of the transition period.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government recognises the challenge these businesses face. The Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan on 24 September. This includes an extension to the temporary 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT on goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This alone provides continued support for the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protection for 2.4 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Plan also provides further support to businesses and jobs over the coming months.

28 Sep 2020, 3:11 p.m. Exports: VAT Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the value of spending by international visitors on goods and services other than tax-free shopping in the UK; and what proportion of that spending is forecast to be retained in the UK after the VAT retail export scheme is withdrawn.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government has announced that the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to EU visitors, and will be withdrawn for all non-EU visitors, following the end of the transition period. However, retailers will continue to be able to offer VAT-free shopping to non-EU visitors who purchase items in store and have them sent direct to their overseas addresses and this will be available to EU visitors following the end of the transition period.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government recognises the challenge these businesses face. The Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan on 24 September. This includes an extension to the temporary 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT on goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This alone provides continued support for the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protection for 2.4 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Plan also provides further support to businesses and jobs over the coming months.

28 Sep 2020, 2:54 p.m. Exports: VAT Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the value of tax-free shopping sales in the UK; and what proportion of that spending is forecast to be retained in the UK once the VAT retail export scheme is withdrawn.

Answer (Kemi Badenoch)

The Government has announced that the VAT Retail Export Scheme will not be extended to EU visitors, and will be withdrawn for all non-EU visitors, following the end of the transition period. However, retailers will continue to be able to offer VAT-free shopping to non-EU visitors who purchase items in store and have them sent direct to their overseas addresses and this will be available to EU visitors following the end of the transition period.

The final costing will be subject to scrutiny by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility and will be set out at the next forecast.

The Government recognises the challenge these businesses face. The Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan on 24 September. This includes an extension to the temporary 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT on goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This alone provides continued support for the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protection for 2.4 million jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The plan also provides further support to businesses and jobs over the coming months.

22 May 2020, 1:54 p.m. Gun Sports: Coronavirus Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to enable the early resumption of shooting after the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

The Government has said people can now leave their homes for the purposes of open-air recreation in public open spaces to promote their physical or mental health or emotional wellbeing. What counts as “open-air recreation” is not defined in the regulations but would include shooting. The regulations define public open spaces as:

(a) Land laid out as a public garden or used for the purpose of recreation by members of the public;

(b) land which is "open country" as defined in section 59(2) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, as that definition has been extended by section 16(1) of the Countryside Act 1968;

(c) land which is "access land" for the purposes of Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (see section 1(1) of that Act)

The Government has published guidance on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation. Outdoor sports courts and other outdoor sporting activities are permitted to reopen if those responsible for them are ready to do so and they can do so safely, following public health guidance. This can be found on the GOV.UK website at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-phased-return-of-outdoor-sport-and-recreation

22 May 2020, 9:47 a.m. Gun Sports: Coronavirus Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to enable the early resumption of (a) clay shooting and (b) target rifle shooting after the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Nigel Huddleston)

It is vital that people continue to be active during the Covid-19 outbreak to support their physical and mental health.

On 11 May, Government published updated guidance on lockdown measures, including updates on how people can remain active. Since Wednesday 13 May, people have been allowed to go outside more than once a day for exercise as long as they are following social distancing guidelines, alone, with members of their household, or with one person from outside of their household. People must still only exercise in groups of no more than two people, unless they are exercising with their household.

All outdoor sports and physical activities are now permitted, without time limit, including outdoor shooting, with the exception of swimming in an open-air swimming pool. This does not apply to individuals’ private swimming pools within their own homes.

6 Mar 2020, 1:03 p.m. Sewage: Rivers Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will hold discussions with the Environmental Agency on reducing levels of raw sewage discharged into (a) main and (b) non-main rivers by water companies.

Answer (Rebecca Pow)

Ministers hold regular discussions with the Environment Agency (EA), on all environmental issues including water quality. My officials also regularly meet with their EA colleagues to discuss waste water management, including sewage discharges.

In England, the majority of the sewerage system is ‘combined’, meaning that sewage is collected along with rain water run-off. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the sewerage system operate to reduce the risk of sewer flooding of homes and land during heavy rainfall. To prevent discharges, between 2015 to 2020 water companies are installing monitors on up to 13,000 of the 15,000 CSOs in England. These will measure how often and for how long they operate, helping inform where improvement works may be required and providing information to the public about spills. This information has been used to help develop the environmental programme that the water companies will be implementing over the next five years, which includes almost £4 billion of investment to reduce pollution from sewage.

All discharges from CSOs require a permit issued by the EA, containing conditions to protect the environment. The EA has the powers to take action if water companies breach their permits and cause harm to the environment.

11 Feb 2020, 5:41 p.m. Game: Animal Breeding Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will publish her Department's response to the Wild Justice Challenge on the effect of rearing gamebirds on Sites of Special Scientific Interest; and if she will make a statement.

Answer (Rebecca Pow)

Defra can confirm that the Secretary of State will make a statement shortly. In summary, in response to a pre-action protocol letter from Wild Justice (WJ) in July 2019, last September Defra accepted in its reply that in principle the release of non-native gamebirds on, or affecting, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) could constitute a “plan or project” requiring appropriate assessment under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive. Whether they will actually do so in any given case will depend on whether they may have a significant effect on the specific SPA or SAC in question. This will depend in turn on the nature of the activities, the features and condition of the SPA or SAC, the distance from the SPA or SAC where the activities are carried out and the possible effects of the activities. While not accepting the argument that current laws do not provide for appropriate assessment in such cases, we proposed to undertake a review to consider the legislative arrangements around the relevant activities and whether there were ways in which their effectiveness could be improved.

WJ’s recent pre-action protocol letter of 20 January 2020 essentially demanded that the Secretary of State should provide the timetable and terms of reference for the legislative review and confirm that the Secretary of State will proscribe or regulate gamebird releases within 5km of any SPA or SAC before gamebird introductions commence in Summer 2020. Defra confirmed in its response to WJ that work on the review is underway and that we will announce further details in the coming weeks. Defra confirmed that the review will include, though will not be limited to, consideration of the section 28E Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 consenting process and the use of Special Nature Conservation Orders in relation to non-native gamebirds release, specifically common pheasant and red-legged partridge, as well as exploring other possible options that might be used so that such releases can be subject to appropriate assessment where appropriate.

Defra explained that the object of the review is to identify the most suitable approach, and that the Secretary of State will not take any steps that pre-empt the outcome. Given the scope of what is involved, Defra stated that it is not in its view reasonable nor realistic to expect measures to be implemented before summer/autumn 2020.

16 Jul 2019, 2:17 p.m. Romania: Deportation Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, what steps he is taking to protect UK residents subject to deportation from Romania.

Answer (Alan Duncan)

Deportations from Romania is a matter for the Romanian immigration authorities. We provide country specific advice for British nationals overseas on gov.uk in our 'living in guides', including Romania, which are regularly updated.

20 Jun 2018, 4:44 p.m. Countryside Stewardship Scheme Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness of the introduction of the mid-tier countryside stewardship scheme and (b) the effect of the introduction of that scheme on processing existing (i) entry and (ii) higher level stewardship claims.

Answer (George Eustice)

Almost 6,000 mid-tier agreements under Countryside Stewardship (CS) are currently in place. A further 10,500 Mid-Tier applications packs have been requested for agreements that would start on 1 January 2019, an increase of 39% on last year.

Natural England, who currently administer the scheme, have been under severe pressure and this has resulted in delays to the issuing of agreements and the processing of payments. We have been working hard to address this, by, for instance introducing 75% bridging payments to CS agreement holders who have yet to receive either an advance or full payment. Agreement offers for the 2018 period were all issued by end-May, allowing agreement holders to submit their claim by 15th June.

14 Jun 2018, 1:44 p.m. Countryside Stewardship Scheme Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many (a) entry level and (b) higher level Stewardship payments remain outstanding for (i) 2016 and (ii) 2017; and whether his Department has set a date for all such outstanding payments to be resolved.

Answer (George Eustice)

A table containing the requested information can be found below. Defra has recently approved additional recovery actions and we now expect Environmental Stewardship advanced and final payments to be substantially completed by mid-August 2018 and mid-October 2018 respectively.

Claim period

Scheme

Payments due

Claims withdrawn or rejected

Payments complete

Payments outstanding

2016 end of year

ELS

22,234

137

21,976

121

HLS

13,978

50

12,988

940

2017 mid-year

ELS

11,534

140

11,117

277

HLS

13,190

142

8,266

4,782

2017 end of year

ELS

11,530

117

9,081

2,332

HLS

13,146

15

1,889

11,242

11 Jun 2018, 4:42 p.m. Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for what time period was his Department's tender validity on the Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation contract extended; and when he plans to announce the winning tender.

Answer (Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton)

The Defence Fire and Rescue project remains subject to an on-going approvals process. Bidders have accepted extensions to the bid validity period to accommodate this; these extensions are confidential between the bidders and the Department. An announcement on the outcome of the project will be made in due course.

12 Apr 2018, 9:34 a.m. Environmental Stewardship Scheme Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many claims for payment for work under the Higher Level Stewardship scheme which took place in (a) 2015-16 and (b) 2016-17 are unresolved; and whether he has set a target date for the resolution of those claims.

Answer (George Eustice)

Holders of Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements receive two payments: an advance and a final payment.

1,111 (20%) of HLS agreements are still to receive their final payment for 2016.

6,774 (52%) of HLS agreements are still to receive a payment for 2017.

There is no set deadline for Environmental Stewardship payments. Natural England is focused on making the payments and we are keeping farming groups regularly updated on progress.

4 Dec 2017, 5:44 p.m. Animal Welfare Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what priority his Department accords to animal sentience when setting its policies on animal welfare standards.

Answer (George Eustice)

The Secretary of State set out the Government’s position in a Written Ministerial Statement on 23 November:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2017-11-23/HCWS267/

1 Nov 2017, 5:56 p.m. Conservation Board for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Membership Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many members of the board responsible for Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Conservation Area reside in Cotswold district; and how many members of that board are elected representatives of the residents of Cotswold district.

Answer (Thérèse Coffey)

The number of members of the conservation board responsible for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) who reside in Cotswold district is as follows:

  1. Of the 14 Secretary of State appointed members: two members currently reside in the Cotswold District Council (CDC) area. One of the two members (although already appointed) has not yet taken up his duties. He will do so on 1 December 2017.

  2. Of the 15 local authority members: two members currently reside in the CDC area. The CDC representative resides in the CDC area. A second member, the Gloucestershire County Council representative represents a division within the CDC area and resides in the CDC area.

  3. Of the eight parish members: three members reside in the CDC area and represent parishes within the CDC area.

    The Cotswolds AONB covers a significantly larger geographical area than that of the CDC. The Cotswolds AONB geographical area does not actually include all of the CDC area. This is reflected in the Board’s membership.

    The current overall membership of the Cotswolds AONB Conservation Board is as follows:

Cotswolds Conservation Board: Membership

Secretary of State Appointed Members

Local Authorities

Parish Councils

Total

14

15

8

37

30 Oct 2017, 4:28 p.m. A417 Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the feasibility studies for the A417 missing link.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

Highways England is developing its proposals that consider both the environmental sensitivity of the site and the importance of the route. An options consultation is to take place in the coming months.

25 Oct 2017, 1:37 p.m. Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the timetable is for awarding the Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation contract; and when the successful bidder of that contract will commence mobilisation.

Answer (Tobias Ellwood)

The final bids in respect of the Defence Fire and Rescue Project were received on 19 September 2017. These bids are now being assessed and, subject to receiving the necessary approvals, the contract is expected to be awarded in 2018.

19 Sep 2017, 3:55 p.m. Caribbean: Hurricanes and Tornadoes Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what (a) short-term emergency and (b) medium-term reconstruction aid his Department has provided to people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Answer (Tobias Ellwood)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been at the forefront of Her Majesty's Government's relief efforts. As of 1100 hrs on 19 September 2017, the MOD had 1,293 personnel in the region. They have provided aid, security assistance, engineering support and support to the civilian government to some of the worst hit areas.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) MOUNTS BAY was deliberately pre-positioned for the hurricane season and provided assistance as soon as it was safe to do so. She was the right ship, positioned in the right place at the right time. More than 40 metric tonnes of aid has now arrived and is being distributed across the region - including 2,608 shelter kits, which can provide shelter for over 13,000 people, and 2,304 solar lanterns, which can provide essential light and power for over 11,000 people.

HMS OCEAN has been redeployed from the Mediterranean to assist in long-term reconstruction efforts - she carries nine helicopters and was supplemented with further aid and reconstruction supplies when she transited through Gibraltar.

The situation is continually evolving and we remain flexible - ensuring the most urgent tasks are prioritised. We are working closely across Government, and are aligning efforts with international partners to ensure coordination in the overall humanitarian and reconstruction effort.

18 Sep 2017, 3:32 p.m. Caribbean: Hurricanes and Tornadoes Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what (a) short-term emergency and (b) medium-term reconstruction aid his Department has provided to people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Answer (Alan Duncan)

I refer you to the statement I made on 12 September, Hurricane Irma: Government Response, House of Commons, Volume 628: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-09-12/debates/FDF2D795-E713-4FD6-BBEB-1E99DA488897/HurricaneIrmaGovernmentResponse

15 Sep 2017, 1:48 p.m. Caribbean: Hurricanes and Tornadoes Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what (a) short-term emergency and (b) medium-term reconstruction aid her Department has provided to people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Answer (Alistair Burt)

The Prime Minister has made available £57 million to support those affected by Hurricane Irma which is being delivered through a co-ordinated response, drawing on expertise from across Government. DFID has sent more than 40 metric tonnes of UK aid to the region including thousands of shelter kits and solar lanterns. More supplies will be arriving throughout the month.

Our top priority is to help with the most urgent needs. But we are also discussing with the governments in the region how best to support them as they begin to get basic services such as health and education running again, and to rebuild their economies and infrastructure.

The Government will continue to do all it can to support those affected. Further details of our work are available on our website https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-development