HC Deb 19 February 1998 vol 306 cc777-8W
Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Prime Minister 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. [27044]

The Prime Minister

[holding answer 2 February 1998]: It is not possible for me to deal personally with all of the letters I receive and I must therefore refer most of them to the Minister and Department with responsibility for the policy or matter in question.

My office aims to acknowledge Members' correspondence within three working days and, where a reply is due from my office, to provide a substantive response within 15 days. My office estimates that 98 per cent. receive acknowledgement within target and 45 per cent. receive substantive reply within target.

We are aiming to improve the performance against the target for a substantive reply. The delays have been caused by the significant increase in the amount of correspondence received by my office. Currently, my office receives an average of some 8,000 letters a week compared with 3,000 before 1 May.

Sir Teddy Taylor

To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 3 February 1998,Official Report, column 582, for what reasons a record was not kept of the registered letter sent to him on 17 August 1997, and sent by fax that day at 10.52 am by Mr. Graham Horwood of 66 St. Andrews Road, Shoeburyness; and if he will review the procedures for dealing with mail from the general public. [29005]

The Prime Minister

My office currently receives some 8,000 letters per week. It is not physically possible to track each and every item once it has been sent to a Department for reply. As I said in my previous answer, on receipt of Mr. Horwood's later letter, further action was initiated and a response sent.