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Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when letters from the hon. Member for Thurrock were recently received in her office; when they were referred to the Minister of State; why no holding letter has been sent to the hon. Member; and when she will make a substantive reply. [118897]

The first letter from my hon. Friend was received in my office on 6 February 2003 and was delegated to my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Construction on 7 February 2003, for him to reply on my behalf.A subsequent letter was received on 14 March 2003 and delegated again to the Minister for Energy and Construction. Unfortunately, due to an oversight, replies to neither letter were issued.I have now seen a copy of my hon. Friend's original letter, and after further consideration, it has been transferred to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for reply, as the subject falls within the responsibility of his Department.I regret the time it has taken to process these pieces of correspondence and have asked for steps to be taken to ensure that there is no repeat of the problem.