§ Mr. Ian Bruce
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how long on average it takes his Department to answer letters from hon. Members; what target date his 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. 
Dr. John Cunningham
[holding answer 2 February 1998]: My Department aims to reply to letters from hon. Members and Peers within 15 working days. MAFF received almost 7,500 letters during 1997 and 76 per cent. of those received a reply within this target. The procedure is constantly monitored to ensure letters are dispatched as soon as possible after typing.