§ Mr. Ian Bruce
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 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 63W the target date; and what assessment he has made of how long it takes to deliver a letter after it has been typed. 
§ Dr. David Clark
On average it takes 13 days for my Department to answer letters from hon. Members.
The Cabinet Office (Office of Public Service) sets a target of fifteen working days from receipt to reply to all letters.
From 1 May to 31 December 1997, 90 per cent. of letters from MPs received a full reply within the target date. A further 7 per cent. received interim holding replies within the target date.
Once letters have been signed, they are dispatched without delay for delivery to the Palace of Westminster (or, when requested, the Member's constituency office). It is usual for letters to be delivered to the House within one working day of being signed by the appropriate Minister, and in many cases they will arrive on the same day.