HL Deb 12 February 2004 vol 656 c170WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked the Leader of the House:

On how many occasions during the past 12 months they have failed to meet the target of answering Written Questions within two weeks; and which departments have been responsible for such failures. [HL951]

Baroness Amos

Since 22 January 2003 to 22 January 2004, 4,980 Questions for Written Answer have been tabled. Of these, 2,767 (56 per cent) were answered within the two-week deadline.

The remaining 44 per cent fall to all departments apart from the Scotland Office and the Wales Office, who were tabled two and three Questions respectively during this period.

I continue to review all the outstanding Questions with my ministerial colleagues on a weekly basis and remind them of the importance of prompt and accurate Answers.

Lord Jopling

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many officials are employed in the Cabinet Office to answer Questions for Written Answer; and whether there are plans to employ extra staff in view of the failure to answer Lord Christopher's Question [HL441] after almost eight weeks, when the target time is two weeks. [HL1181]

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I am sorry for the delay in replying to Lord Christopher's question. Much of the detailed information requested by Lord Christopher was not held centrally within the Cabinet Office and officials had to consult the Ministry of Defence. The Christmas recess also intervened. The process therefore took much longer than is desirable and for this I apologise. Cabinet Office staff draft Answers to Parliamentary Questions as part of their normal day-to-day duties. There are no Cabinet Office staff solely employed on drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions.