§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement about the methods used to monitor the efficiency of each Government Department in answering parliamentary questions, with particular reference to the expected lengths of time to answer questions and the action taken in the case of excessive delays. 
§ Mr. Freeman
Each departmental Minister is responsible for answering the parliamentary questions put to them in a timely manner.201W
For questions for written answer on a named day, Standing Order 18(4) requires that an answer should be given on the day named by the Member. Wherever possible, this will be a substantive reply but, where this is not possible, Ministers will give a holding reply and provide a substantive reply as soon as possible thereafter.
Within my Department, instructions have been given that Ministers will wish, wherever possible, to be in a position to provide a substantive reply on the day named; and, in the case of ordinary written questions, within five working days of the question being tabled.