To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what were the reasons for the delay in providing a substantive answer to the question from the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, to which a holding answer was given on 22 February 1988, and a substantive answer on 21 June 1988,Official Report, column 497;
(2) if he will state the reasons for the delay in providing a substantive answer to the question from the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, tabled for answer on 4 December 1987, to which a substantive answer was given on 21 March 1988, Official Report, column 9.
§ Mr. Neubert
The delay resulted from the requirement to assemble the detailed data asked for by the hon. Member.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why the questions from the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy on 4 December 1987,Official Report, column 736, originally to be answered by a letter from the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman) were subsequently answered by replies published in the Official Report, 31 March 1988, columns 623–26; and what criteria he uses to decide whether a parliamentary question should be answered in the Official Report or by a ministerial letter.
§ Mr. Neubert
I aim, as did my predecessor in this Department my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman), to provide information requested by right hon. and hon. Members as speedily and in as helpful and appropriate a manner as possible. In the particular case raised by the hon. Member, it was not possible to provide him with the detailed answers to the questions he had posed immediately. My hon. Friend the then Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces therefore, and in the light of the impending parliamentary recess, said that he would write to the hon. Member. In the event, the researches required took longer than had been expected and it was therefore most appropriate to answer the questions by means of written answers.