§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 29 January 2001,Official Report, column 49W, on the Medicines Control Agency, if he will state for each request for information made under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information since 1997 which was not met under the specified 20 days (a) the specific number of days taken for each request, (b) the reasons each request was not met under the specified time and (c) what steps are being taken to ensure that requests for information are routinely met within the specified time limit. 
§ Ms Stuart
[holding answer 15 February 2001]: The information requested is in the table.617W
Reference Number Number of days taken to reply Reason request was not met within 20 working days OG/97/05 23 Resource priorities OG/97/12 38 Request required searches of all relevant MCA databases OG/98/18 38 Request raised 10 separate issues requiring input from across MCA. Also raised policy issues as per 98/24 OG/98/22 38 An MCA internal procedures document required updating before copy could be provided as requested OG/98/23 127 Request raised five separate issues, some spanning 1987 to early March 1998, which needed search of archived papers. Also raised policy issues as per 98/24 OG/98/24 123 Raised issues of policy which needed to be resolved before reply could be sent OG/98/30 24 Resource priorities OG/98/37 83 As per OG/98/24 OG/98/44 66 As per OG/98/24 OG/98/49 35 Request raised four separate issues requiring search of third party papers OG/98/51 128 Request raised six separate issues requiring search of third party papers OG/98/55 29 Resource priorities OG/98/64 1— Reply subsumed into action re: OG/98/24 OG/98/67 30 Reply subsumed into separate correspondence outwith the Code OG/98/69 21 Resource priorities OG/98/73 align="right">23 Resource priorities OG/98/76 2— Request cleared by telephone but no record of data made at time OG/98/78 31 Request raised 13 separate issues requiring search of archive papers OG/98/79 33 Resource priorities OG/99/03 169 Request sought replies to consultation exercise. The consultation period had been extended beyond the expiry of the 20 days and then large number of replies had to be checked for confidentiality, copied and collated before reply could be sent OG/99/04 175 As OG/99/03 OG/99/09 86 Request raised 24 separate issues requiring search of archived papers OG/99/11 23 Information sought not held centrally by the MCA OG/99/13 31 Resource priorities OG/99/24 26 Request sought replies to consultation exercise and replies had to be checked for confidentiality, copied and collated before reply could be sent OG/99/31 35 Resource priorities OG/99/37 28 Resource priorities OG/99/45 33 Partial reply sent within 20 days but supplementary information required to complete reply OG/99/46 62 Involved correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed OG/99/48 64 Request raised 11 separate issues requiring search of archived papers OG/99/50 43 Request raised several separate issues requiring search of archived papers OG/00/02 64 Resource priorities OG/00/05 38 Resource priorities OG/00/20 71 Multiple queries requiring advice from third parties OG/00/22 129 Multiple queries requiring advice from third parties OG/00/23 1— Involves large amount of data and correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed OG/00/25 3— Involves large amount of data and correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed OG/00/27 3— Involves correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed 1Not applicable 2Not known 3Outstanding
Following a recommendation from the Ombudsman, the Medicines Control Agency is currently reviewing its procedures for handling requests under the Code. In addition the Agency is examining the information held by the MCA (which currently totals around 400 different types) to determine, for example, what can be routinely published or what could be pre-prepared in anticipation of requests. This work will intensify over the coming months in preparation for the implementation of the Freedom of information legislation. These initiatives will streamline arrangements for dealing with requests for information and enable a greater number of inquiries to be answered within 20 working days.