The time taken in preparing briefs for oral parliamentary questions is not routinely recorded in the Employment Department. Estimates are, however, made where there is a likelihood of exceeding the disproportionate cost threshold, currently £250. However,620W following an interdepartmental exercise in 1972, in which the Employment Department participated, an assessment was made of the average cost throughout all Departments of answering an oral question. This assessment was based on staff time, using average rates of pay and associated costs for the grades concerned, together with a share of the cost of parliamentary sections and any substantial non-staff costs such as computer usage. This assessed figure is regularly updated and currently stands at £99.
No savings would be made and costs would almost certainly increase significantly. If the oral question is known in advance briefing can be tightly focused, thus avoiding the cost of producing a detailed brief, covering all subjects that could possibly arise.