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Handling Members’ Correspondence

Volume 542: debated on Thursday 15 March 2012

I am today publishing a report on Departments’ and agencies’ performance on handling Members’ and peers’ correspondence during the calendar year 2011. Details are set out in the table below. Correspondence statistics for 2010 can be found on 28 March 2011, Official Report, 1WS.

Departmental figures are based on substantive replies unless otherwise indicated. The footnotes to the table provide general background information on how the figures have been compiled.

Correspondence from MP/Peers to Ministers and Agency Chief Executives 2011

Correspondence from MPs/Peers to Ministers and Agency Chief Executives1

2011

Department or Agency

Target set for reply (working days)

Number of letter received

% of replies within target

Attorney General’s Office

20

318

92

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

15

14,857

82

- Companies House

10

134

100

- Insolvency Service

10

49

88

- Land Registry2

15

134

36

- Met Office

10

14

83

- Skills Funding Agency

10

240

85

Cabinet Office

15

3,988

63

Charity Commission

153

133

84

Department for Communities and Local Government4

10

12,680

65

- Planning Inspectorate

7

399

95

Crown Prosecution Service

20

411

97

Department for Culture, Media and Sport5

20

5,913

96

- Royal Parks

10

28

100

Ministry of Defence

15

6,315

81

- Service Personnel and Veterans Agency6

15

67

93

Department for Education7

15

18,666

39

Department of Energy and Climate Change

15

7,560

82

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

15

12,069

80

- Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency

15

174

87

- Rural Payments Agency

15

222

81

Food Standards Agency

DH Ministers replies

20

214

99

FSA Chair/CE replies

20

121

89

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

20

10,402

87

Department of Health

20

18,686

99

- Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

20

422

98

Home Office8

15

9,878

57

- Criminal Records Bureau

15

727

97

- Identity and Passport Service

10

1,206

81

- UK Border Agency

20

48,712

90

Department for International Development

15

3,894

97

Ministry of Justice

15

8,608

70

- HM Courts Service and Tribunals Service

15

846

86

- National Archive

15

11

91

- National Offender Management Service

15*

20**

1,077

342

73

83

- Office of the Public Guardian

15

198

95

- Official Solicitor and Public Trustee

15

47

100

*Where Ministers replied

**Where CEO replied

Northern Ireland Office

15

485

86

Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Schools

15

136

90

Office of Fair Trading

15

665

88

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets

15

285

67

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

15

171

90

Office of the Leader of the House of Lords

15

159

90

Office of Rail Regulation

20

47

88

OFWAT (Water Services Regulation Authority)

10

93

76

Scotland Office

15

144

84

Serious Fraud Office

20

30

83

Department for Transport

15

11,766

519

- Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency

7

1,549

99

- Driving Standards Agency

10

103

98

- Highways Agency

15

367

96

- Maritime and Coastguard Agency

10

29

83

- Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

10

84

93

HM Treasury

15

14,453

62

- H M Revenue and Customs10

15

2,705

48

- HMRC CEO*

15

7,715

36

*Cases where the HMRC’s Chief Executive has replied directly, rather than Ministers

Treasury Solicitor's Department

10

17

100

Wales Office

15

75

87

Department for Work and Pensions

20

24,883

94

- Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission*

15

3,058

99

- Debt Management*

15

13

90

- Health and Safety Executive*

15

124

93

- Jobcentre Plus*

15

2,753

94

- Pension, Disability and Carers Service*

15

2,133

100

* Letters sent direct to Chief Executive/Officials

1Departments and Agencies which received 10 MPs/Peers letters or fewer are not shown in this table. Holding or interim replies are not included unless otherwise indicated. The report does not include correspondence considered as Freedom of Information requests.

2Drop in performance was due to significant increase in correspondence from February - April on property fraud, alongside a change in Chief Executive. Performance for the remainder of 2011 rose to 50% with October to December at 63%

3Response target 15 working days with effect from 1 April 2011.

4Response target reduced to 10 working days with effect from May 2010. Performance against 15 working days was 85%

5DCMS also monitor Ministerial correspondence to the following Departmental targets:

2 working days - 41% of responses sent. 10 working days - 79% of responses sent

6Agency wound up with effect from 16 June 2011.

7Between January and June 2011, the Department cleared a substantial backlog of correspondence following a 20% increase in correspondence overall since May 2010. For the January-June period 34% of correspondence was sent within the 15 day target, and 47% within 20 days. The Department has now put in place a new system to improve quality and deal with sustained higher volumes of correspondence. Between July and December 47% of letters were sent within the 15 day target, and 66% of letters were sent within 20 days. The Department expects improvements in performance to continue in 2012.

8Includes the Government Equalities Office.

9This decrease in performance is due to a number of factors - including an overall increase in correspondence volumes of 24%, introduction of a new correspondence handling system, and departmental re-structuring. A number of measures have now been put in place to improve performance, including improved reporting arrangements; process efficiencies and an increased focus on clearance.

10Correspondence often about complex individual tax matters hence delays in replying. Improvements in

place to improve performance.