Written Ministerial Statements
Monday 13 May 2013
Handling Members' Correspondence
I am today publishing a report on Departments’ and agencies’ performance on handling Members’ and peers’ correspondence during the calendar year 2012. Details are set out in the table below. Correspondence statistics for 2011 can be found on 15 March 2012, Official Report, column 30WS.
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 MPs/Peers to Ministers and Agency Chief Executives1
Department or Agency
Target set for reply (working days)
Number of letter received
% of replies within target
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
- Companies House
- Insolvency Service
- Land Registry
- Met Office
- Ordnance Survey
- Skills Funding Agency
Department for Communities and Local Government
- Planning Inspectorate
Crown Prosecution Service
Department for Culture, Media and Sport3
Ministry of Defence
Department for Education
Department of Energy and Climate Change
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency
- Rural Payments Agency
Food Standards Agency
DH Ministers replies
FSA Chair/CE replies
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Department of Health
- Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
- Criminal Records Bureau
- Identity and Passport Service
- UK Border Agency
Department for International Development
Ministry of Justice
- HM Courts Service and Tribunals Service
- National Archive
- National Offender Management Service
- Office of the Public Guardian
- Official Solicitor and Public Trustee
*Where Ministers replied
**Where CEO replied
Northern Ireland Office
Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Schools
Office of Fair Trading
Office of Gas and Electricity Markets
Office of the Leader of the House of Commons
Office of the Leader of the House of Lords
Office of Rail Regulation
OFWAT (Water Services Regulation Authority)
Serious Fraud Office
Department for Transport
- Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency
- Driving Standards Agency
- Highways Agency
- Vehicle and Operator Services Agency
- H M Revenue and Customs
- HMRC CEO*
*Cases where the HMRC’s Chief Executive has replied directly, rather than Ministers
Treasury Solicitor’s Department
Department for Work and Pensions
- Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission6*
- Health and Safety Executive*
- DWP Operations7*
*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.
2Target from 19/03/2012, previously seven days.
3Government Equalities Office was part of Home Office from January-August and then part of DCMS from September-December. During the year the GEO’s performance was 74%.
4Target from March 2012, previously 15 days.
5Target previously 10 working days up to April 2012.
6The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission was abolished on 30 July 2012. From 1 August 2012, operational correspondence from MPs and Peers relating to child maintenance became the responsibility of the Child Support Agency within DWP.
7With effect from 1 October 2011, correspondence activity relating to Jobcentre Plus and the Pensions, Disability and Carers Service was merged under the organisation of the Chief Operating Officer within DWP.
Equitable Life Payment Scheme
As of 30 April 2013 the scheme has made payments totalling £604 million and has informed 85% of eligible individual policyholders the value of any payment due. The scheme has also published a further progress report, which can be found at:
The scheme has now contacted all the eligible individual policyholders it can trace. Any holders of an individual non with-profits annuity or with-profits annuity who have not been contacted by the scheme should call the scheme on 0300 0200 150 to confirm the eligibility of their policy and be advised of the next steps they should take.
The scheme has also started making payments to those who bought their Equitable Life policy through a company pension scheme, with circa 65,000 payments already made to this group. These payments will continue over the coming months.
The scheme has also confirmed that the estates of some 8,000 deceased policyholders have been paid and the process of identifying, tracing and contacting the estates of deceased policyholders continues.
The Government are committed to drawing a line under the Equitable Life issue and the scheme remains on track to close as planned in 2014. The scheme will begin the process of closing down and shutting to new claims later this year. In advance of that the scheme will place adverts in national newspapers to encourage those that are due a payment and have not received it to come forward.
Energy and Climate Change
Reuse of Plutonium
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will publish today the conclusions of its consultation on the proposed justification process for the reuse of plutonium.
The concept of justification is based on the internationally accepted principle of radiological protection; that no practice involving exposure to ionising radiation should be adopted unless it produces sufficient benefits to the exposed individuals, or to society in general, to offset the health detriment it may cause.
Before a new class or type of practice that involves a risk from ionising radiation can be undertaken in the UK, it must be justified. It is not necessary to show the class or type of practice being considered for justification is the best available option.
The consultation was published in May 2012 and views were sought on whether the proposed process was clear and proportionate, took into account the relevant factors for consideration and whether guidance should be specific or generic.
Having considered all responses received during the consultation period, the UK Government have set out the application and decision-making processes in a “Guidance for Applicants” document.
Copies of the consultation response and “Guidance for Applicants” have been placed in Libraries of the House or can be obtained from the GOV.UK website:
Managing Radioactive Waste Safely
The Government remain committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of higher-activity radioactive waste. For the reasons I gave in my written ministerial statement on 31 January 2013, Official Report, column 54WS (www.gov.uk/government/ speeches/written-ministerial-statement-by-edward-davey-on-the-management-of-radioactive-waste) I remain confident that the objective of the managing radioactive waste safely (MRWS) programme is sound and will be put into effect, and that a site for a geological disposal facility (GDF) will be found.
Further to my previous statement, I can now confirm that the Government will today launch a call for evidence on the site selection process of the managing radioactive waste safely (MRWS) programme. The evidence provided in response to this call will inform a public consultation later this year.
The invitation remains open for communities to come forward and express an interest, without commitment, in the site selection process for a GDF.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Prime Minister travelled to Russia on Friday 10 May as part of a series of visits to G8 capitals ahead of the G8 summit in Lough Erne. The meeting with President Putin took place in Sochi, the venue for the 2014 winter Olympics. Security for the games was one of the topics of discussion.
As the House is aware, co-operation with the Russian authorities over security issues has been a sensitive subject since the death of Alexander Litvinenko. Following a lack of progress with the Russian authorities in the investigation in 2007, the Government took a number of measures, dubbed the “Litvinenko measures”. Since then we have had no contact with the Federal Security Services (FSB).
For the forthcoming Sochi Olympics, we must work with the Russian authorities on their security preparations for the games. This will help assure the safety of British nationals at the event. The Prime Minister agreed with President Putin that a limited channel of communication with the relevant Russian authorities will be set up for the specific objective of preparing for security issues arising from the Sochi games. This will include contact with the FSB, specifically and solely for the purposes of ensuring the safety of British visitors and participants in the Sochi Olympics.
There has been no change to the measures announced to Parliament by the previous Government in 2007. The Government continue to seek justice in the Litvinenko case and believe that the two suspects identified by the Crown Prosecution Service should face trial in the UK.
Identity and Passport Service
With effect from 13 May 2013, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) will be renamed and its functions carried out under the name of Her Majesty’s Passport Office.
The new title reflects the role of Her Majesty’s Passport Office in issuing passports to citizens of the United Kingdom on behalf of the Crown under the exercise of the royal prerogative. It also reflects the policy of Her Majesty’s Government to end the previous Administration’s plans for identity cards. Her Majesty’s Passport Office will retain responsibility for the work of the General Register Office for England and Wales.
The change in name does not affect the validity of existing British passports nor the form and content of future British passports.