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Departmental Correspondence

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff work in his Department's parliamentary branch; and what proportion of their time is spent on dealing with (a) parliamentary questions and (b) correspondence from hon. Members and peers. (174968)

There are four staff working in the parliamentary branch of my Department; one head of branch, one Parliamentary Clerk, one Committee Clerk and one Questions Clerk. The Questions Clerk deals solely with parliamentary questions. The Parliamentary Clerk spends approximately 35 per cent. of his time on PQ related matters.

Correspondence from MPs and peers is handled through my and the Minister of State's private offices, rather than parliamentary section. Staff at all grades within the private offices deal with correspondence. However, there are two full-time Correspondence Clerks who mainly process correspondence from hon. Members, peers and the public.

These figures are in addition to the policy and operational staff across the Department who are responsible for drafting answers to parliamentary questions and correspondence from MPs and peers, the numbers of which could be calculated only at disproportionate cost.