HL Deb 09 May 2002 vol 634 cc200-1WA
Lord Peyton of Yeovil

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will publish a table showing department by department the length of time taken to reply to Questions for Written Answer during this session and stating which department is most frequently in default of what is required by courtesy as well as by the rules of the House. [HL4005]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

The information requested is not currently available for this session.

A new computer database has recently been installed in my office which will enable this information to be provided in the future.

Lord Jopling

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to find out the reason why on 1 May, 65 Questions for Written Answer were still awaiting answer for longer than 21 days; and [HL4150]

Whether 14 days remains the length of time during which Questions for Written Answer in the House of Lords should receive a reply. [HL4151]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

The longstanding problem of the time taken to reply to Parliamentary Questions is an issue of concern. I am taking a number of steps to address this problem.

A new computer database has recently been installed in my office which is helping my office to chase progress on late Answers and provide more helpful replies in future to Questions raised on this issue.

I have also asked the house authorities whether they will look into the feasibility of designating the answering department when the Question appears on the Order Paper. This would not necessitate any change in the House of Lords' practice of addressing Questions to "Her Majesty's Government" but it would help with the administrative process of ensuring that departments are aware of their responsibilities.

I can confirm that departments are still expected to reply to Written Questions within 14 days.