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Departmental Correspondence

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) letters and (b) e-mails received by his Department had not been responded to as at 15 December 2008. (244705)

Only correspondence received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Ministerial Support Unit (MSU) is logged centrally. To ask every department or overseas post within the FCO how many letters and e-mails had not been responded to by a particular date would incur a disproportionate cost.

MSU records are maintained on a rolling basis so it is not possible to identify how many pieces of correspondence had not been responded to as of 15 December 2008. Furthermore, we do not differentiate between types of correspondence so are unable to break down our response into the number of letters or e-mails we receive. However, I can confirm that, in-line with Cabinet Office guidance, of the 10,334 letters received from hon. Members in 2008, 87 per cent. were answered within 20 working days and of the 73,048 letters received from members of the public, 91 per cent. were answered within 20 working days.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how long on average it took his Department to send a substantive response to correspondence from members of the public in the latest period for which figures are available. (255589)

Only correspondence received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ministerial support unit (MSU) is logged centrally. To ask every Department or overseas post within the FCO how long on average it takes to issue a substantive response to correspondence from members of the public would incur a disproportionate cost.

MSU records do not allow us to identify the average length of time taken to substantively reply to correspondence from members of the public. However, I can confirm that of the 73,048 letters received from members of the public, 91 per cent. were answered within 20 working days.