§ Mr. Deakins
asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the latest estimate of the cost of answering written and oral questions, respectively; and what is the cost upper limit for providing answers in each category.
§ Mr. Biffen
The costs of individual questions vary considerably, but the current average cost is estimated at £41 for written answers and £67 for oral answers. Ministers may decline to give a substantive reply to a parliamentary question if they consider that the cost of providing that reply would be disproportionate to its value to Parliament and public. An advisory figure of £200 was introduced in 1982 as the level at which Ministers might consider whether the expense of a full reply was justified. It is for individual Ministers to decide particular cases; there is no upper level of cost which automatically disqualifies a question from answer.