HC Deb 27 October 1998 vol 318 cc148-50W
Mr. Mackinlay

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of hon. Members' correspondence received by the Immigration and Visa Unit was replied to within 15 working days, for the last month for which figures are available; and what were the corresponding figures for each of the preceding 12 months. [56226]

Mr. Fatchett

Statistics for the period October 1997 to September 1998 are given in the table.

and promoting progress towards a political settlement. We firmly support this process and urge all parties to co-operate with the UN in a constructive and flexible manner.

We also fully endorse the steps taken through the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General to address human rights issues in Cyprus and urge all concerned to co-operate in support of these.

Mr. Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by the UK to press the Turkish authorities to disclose the fate of Greek Cypriots who have been missing since the invasion of 1974. [56776]

Ms Quin

We have the greatest sympathy for all Cypriots who have lost members of their family over the past 30 years or more. We fully support the steps taken through the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General to address human rights issues in Cyprus. We strongly endorse the efforts of the UN Committee on Missing Persons set up in 1981 to establish the fate of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots listed as missing from 1963 to 1975, and continue to urge all concerned to co-operate fully with it. We welcome the exchange carried out in January and April 1998 through the UN by the two communities of information on the fate of the missing and encourage the parties to make further progress on this important issue.

Mr. Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by the UK to seek the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the occupied areas of Cyprus. [56775]

Ms Quin

We believe that the key to assuring the lasting security of all Cypriots is through a comprehensive political settlement. We fully support the UN Secretary-General's efforts to this end and urge all parties to co-operate in a constructive and flexible manner. We recognise eventual demilitarisation as an important objective in this context and encourage the Secretary-General to continue to promote efforts in this direction. UN Security Council

Department Target (working days) Total volume Percentage of responses within target Target 1998–99 Agencies included
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food1 15 65,410 89 15 yes
Cabinet Office (OPS) 15 6,226 95.6 15 yes
Department for Culture, Media and Sport2 18 21,162 68 18 no
Customs and Excise 10 572,430 89 10 n/a
Ministry of Defence3 20 5,922 86 20 yes
Department for Education and Employment 15 116,417 88 15 no
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions4 15 672,980 96 15 yes
Department of Health1 20 46,675 66 20 yes
Home Office 20 5173,285 81 20 6
Inland Revenue 20 785m 873.7 20 n/a
Lord Chancellor's Department 20 10,200 77 20 no
Northern Ireland Office (including Northern Ireland Departments) 15 198,160 94 15 9
Department of Social Security 20 1032,168 77 20 no
Scottish Office 20 200,000 71 20 yes
Department of Trade and Industry 15 133,200 95 15 no
Welsh Office 15 65,087 86 15 yes
Benefits Agency2 20 25,816 92 20 n/a
Child Support Agency 10 11— 67 10 n/a
Child Support Agency (Northern Ireland) 10 2,981 89 10 n/a
Contributions Agency 20 259,302 92 20 n/a
Court Service 10 74,534,387 99.5 10 n/a
Employment Service 10 12 91 10 n/a
Social Security Agency (Northern Ireland) 15 41,609 96.5 15 n/a
1 Correspondence received between 1 November 1997 and 31 March 1998
2 Figures relate to correspondence addressed to Ministers
3 Correspondence addressed to Ministers, e-mailed to the MOD web site, and mail on defence issues received by other departments between 1 August 1997 and 31 March 1998
4 As a result of the large increase in correspondence after the General Election it was often impossible for letters to be passed to the answering division within 15 days. Consequently many parts of the Department have interpreted the target as being a response within 15 days of receipt in the responding division, rather than from when the letter was actually received in the Department
5 The number of letters received by the Central Correspondence Unit from members of the public, and the percentage of letters meeting the target, was taken from a statistically monitored sample
6 Includes all Home Office agencies except the Prison Service
7 This is the number of items of post received by the Department's network of offices
8 Holding replies are not counted in order to maximise the incentive to issue full replies quickly
9 Includes all Northern Ireland departments' agencies except the Prison Service, and the CSA(NI) and SSA(NI) whose performance is shown separately
10In addition 17,151 letters were received from DSS HQ but were passed on to the Department's executive agencies for reply and are therefore included in the agencies' return
11 Total volumes are not recorded. Performance is calculated through a sample, which in 1997–98 was just under 25,000 letters
12 Total volume not known. The performance against target was calculated by evaluating 4,000 letters sent out by a research company. In the same period some 780 letters were received addressed to Ministers—80.6 per cent. of these were cleared within 15 days

Resolution 1178 of 29 June 1998 called upon all concerned to commit themselves to a reduction in defence spending and a reduction in the number of foreign troops in the Republic of Cyprus.

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