§ Mr. Ian Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how long on average it takes his Department to answer letters from hon. Members; what target date his470W Department sets; what percentage receive replies within the target date; and what assessment he has made of how long it takes to deliver a letter after it has been typed. 
§ Mr. Spellar
Statistics are not held in the form requested. My Department has a target of reply to letters from hon. Members within 15 working days of receipt. Since 14 May 1997, ministers have replied to 63 per cent. of letters within this target and to 79 per cent. within 20 working days. All replies are normally taken by hand to the mail room at the House of Commons, unless we have been asked to make other arrangements by the hon. Member concerned, within 1 working day of being signed.