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Parliamentary Questions

Volume 401: debated on Thursday 20 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many named day written questions were tabled to the Department between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003; how many that received a holding answer were given a substantive answer (a) within three days, (b) within seven days, (c) within 14 days, (d) within 28 days and (e) over 28 days later; and what procedures the Department has in place to monitor performance on answering (i) parliamentary questions and (ii) ministerial letters. [99431]

541 named day written questions were tabled to the Home Office between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003. 426 received a holding answer. Of these:

  • 163 were answered within three days;
  • 104 were answered within seven days;
  • 96 were answered within 14 days;
  • 40 were answered within 28 days;
  • and 23 took over 28 days to be answered.
The Home Office recognises that its performance in answering PQs is not as good as it should be and is working closely with directorates and its business change and IT partners to improve the situation. We hope to implement a new electronic PQ system by the summer. This should provide us with enhanced methods for monitoring performance and help us to become more efficient in answering the ever-increasing volume of PQs that we receive.The target for responding to letters from MPs is 15 working days. To monitor performance, management information is produced internally on a weekly and monthly basis to show details of unanswered letters, and plot overall performance against the target. This month, the Home Office is beginning the roll out of a new computer based correspondence tracking system which, as well as enabling the efficient handling of correspondence, will also provide more detailed management information to help monitor performance.