HC Deb 25 July 1983 vol 46 c783
25. Mr. Spearing

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will ensure that, in respect of those matters upon which he answers questions, the terms of Standing Order No. 8(7) are strictly complied with, and that an answer is given on the day specified by notice of a priority written question.

Mr. Hayhoe

I always try to answer priority written questions on the due date, but occasionally the necessary research takes longer and a full answer is then given as soon as possible.

Mr. Spearing

I appreciate that written answers for priority cannot always be given on the day named, for the reasons that the Minister has given. However, does he agree that there is a notional day procedure for a non-priority written question and that the answer is expected within about one week after that notional day? Will he examine the performance of Departments on that aspect?

Mr. Hayhoe

I confirm that the Select Committee's report showed that ordinary written questions should be answered within a working week of their being tabled. The House has generally accepted that. I try to follow that practice, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, when the questions are very involved, as is often the case with questions to the Treasury, it is impossible to meet the one-week requirement. In those circumstances, a letter is normally sent to the hon. Member concerned explaining what is going on. If the hon. Gentleman has any special cases in mind, I shall look into them or draw them to the attention of those of my right hon. Friends who are responsible for them.