asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why it took his Department until 2 April to reply to a communication dated 29 February from the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, regarding the general question of the national insurance death grant; what was contained in this communication which necessitated this delay; who had to be approached; whether he will give details of the reasons for the delay; and whether he will take action to expedite replies in the future.
I am sorry that the hon. Member should feel the reply to his letter has been unduly delayed. The Department handles a very large volume of correspondence from hon. Members as well as from the general public. Every letter is given the fullest consideration and our aim is to provide a reply as quickly as possible. The speed of replies is governed as much by the number of letters we receive as by their content.The death grant, the subject of the hon. Member's letter, has attracted a large number of representations which are being dealt with as fast as staff resources allow.