Correspondence

Home Department written question – answered on 31st October 2001.

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Photo of Ms Annabelle Ewing Ms Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party, Perth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) what was, for each year since 1995, the average response time for providing a substantive answer to (a) hon. Members' correspondence, (b) correspondence from members of the public and (c) written parliamentary questions in the (i) House of Commons and (ii) House of Lords;

(2) what was, for each year since 1995, the total number of (a) letters from hon. Members (b) letters from members of the public and (c) parliamentary questions from (i) hon. Members and (ii) Lords dealt with by his Department; what percentage took (A) more than one month and (B) more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My Department receives large amounts of correspondence from hon. Members and members of the public. We aim to send a substantive reply to all letters as soon as possible. I am determined to achieve a high level of performance in dealing quickly with correspondence.

We are working with our information technology partners to develop next summer a customer contact centre which will radically change the way we handle letters, e-mails and telephone inquiries. In the short term we are implementing a number of organisational and process changes to bring about improvements in the quality and timeliness of replies and to prepare for the contact centre.

General information on the volumes of correspondence received across Whitehall and on overall performance is published by the Cabinet Office. Figures for 2000 were published on 6 April 2001, Hansard, column 324W, and on 19 July 2001, Hansard, column 454W.

The Home Office also receives a high number of parliamentary questions each Session and takes its responsibilities for answering them seriously. This is reflected in the performance levels indicated in the tables, which are, in the main, within the recommended response times required by both Houses. The Home Office has, since 2000, had a performance indicator of answering 95 per cent. of parliamentary questions within target. In the most recent financial year for which figures are available—2000/01—the figure achieved was 94 per cent.

The tables show the number of written parliamentary questions answered by the Home Office in the House of Commons and the House of Lords respectively since 1995; the percentage of those questions which took more than a month to provide a substantive answer; the percentage of questions which took more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and the average response time in days from the point at which the question is due for answer (ie the date on which it appears in the order book). The figures for questions in the House of Commons have been broken down in terms of questions which were for ordinary written and named day answer respectively.

Table 1: Written Parliamentary Questions (House of Commons)
Number of ordinary written questions Percentage more than one month Percentage more than three months Average response time in days Number of named day written questions Percentage more than one month Percentage more than three months Average response time in days
1995 1,968 1 1 5 1,591 0 0 2
1996 1,615 2 0 5 1,187 1 0 3
1997 1,515 0 0 4 1,300 0 0 2
1998 2,222 0 0 4 1,251 0 0 1
1999 2,200 0 0 5 1,661 0 0 1
2000 1,947 0 0 4 2,063 0 0 2
2001(14) 1,136 0 0 4 1,000 1 0 2

(14) As at 20 July 2001

Table 2: Written Parliamentary Questions (House of Lords)
Number Percentage more than one month Percentage more than three months Average response times in days
1995 219 0 0 8
1996 340 0 0 9
1997 367 2 0 8
1998 607 0 0 8
1999 573 1 0 9
2000 579 2 0 9
2001(15) 135 4 0 8

(15) As at 20 July 2001

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