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Written Questions and Answers (Processing)

Volume 580: debated on Thursday 8 May 2014

3. What steps he is taking to support the House in rationalising the processing of written questions and answers and in improving the service to hon. Members. (903910)

The Government are supporting the project being undertaken by the House to enable the electronic exchange of parliamentary questions and answers between Members and answering bodies. All Departments are fully engaged in the roll-out of this exciting project, and my office has successfully transferred to the live system.

Will the Leader of the House tell us what effect the project will have on savings for the House and on the convenience of Members?

I expect the new system to save significant sums in this Parliament and across Departments, including by reducing the costs of publishing questions and answers. The new system will also improve reporting and transparency for Members and the public, through providing dedicated webpages for written answers.

Will the Leader of the House tell the House which Department is the quickest at answering questions, which Department is the slowest and how the former might tutor the latter?

My hon. Friend will recall that we do not measure the average time taken to answer questions, but on the extent to which Departments meet the required standard, my recollection—I do not have the figures in front of me—is that the Office of the Leader of the House most consistently meets it. I might add that although the Department of Health had the largest number of questions, it was the second most successful in meeting the required standard. As for the poorest, my recollection is that although the Department for Education has made some modest improvement, it continues to strive to do better.