§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Prime Minister whether she will set up an interdepartmental investigation to ascertain why it is taking three and four times longer to receive replies from the various Departments on almost every subject compared with 30 and more years ago, to examine the effectiveness of the contributions being made by extra civil servants, new equipment such as electronic aids, electric typewriters, photostat machines, and so on, and to recommend the action that should be taken to restore the service to its former speed and efficiency.
§ The Prime Minister
There are fewer civil servants on a true comparison than 30 years ago and a lot more letters to Ministers. But I would hope that my ministerial colleagues could deal with most inquiries in three to four weeks, though there will be complex cases which take longer. I trust that they will keep up pressure to have all correspondence—including that from right hon. and hon. Members—answered as speedily as possible, and I know that they seek to use modern methods wherever these will help. A project on the greater use of new office technology in ministerial offices has now started. If the hon. Member has a particular case in mind perhaps he will let me know.