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Parliamentary Answers

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Leader of the House what steps he has taken since his appointment to improve the (a) timeliness and (b) content of parliamentary answers; and what information he collects on the percentage of answers which are given later than (i) the day named and (ii) the conventional deadline for written questions. (86593)

Since my appointment I have made clear to the House the importance I attach to the timeliness and quality of responses to parliamentary questions tabled in the House. As I have indicated to the House, I have raised the matter directly with ministerial colleagues.

Ministers recognise their obligation under the ministerial code to give accurate and truthful information to Parliament and to be as open as possible with Parliament. Ministers also recognise the requirements that a written question tabled for a named day should receive an answer on that day and an ordinary written question should receive a substantive response within a working week of it being tabled.

My office offers guidance to other Departments about the handling of responses to parliamentary questions. Departments are responsible for keeping their own records on the timeliness of answers and provide this information to the House when requested by the Select Committee on Public Administration or through Members’ questions. I also intend regularly to monitor these statistics from the start of the next Session.