To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of questions tabled to the Secretary of State for written answer on a named day were answered substantively before or on the day named for answer (a) in Session 2009-10 and (b) since May 2010; how many such questions tabled between May 2010 and 12 November 2010 had not received a substantive answer by 18 November 2010; and what estimate he has made of the average cost to his Department of answering a question for written answer on a named day on the day named for answer in the latest period for which figures are available.
The Government have committed to providing the Procedure Committee with sessional statistics in a standard format on the time taken to respond to written parliamentary questions for the 2009-10 session. This information will be submitted to the Procedure Committee shortly.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) records on answering questions are calculated on the basis of sitting days, not calendar days, in accordance with the convention that questions should be answered within a working week.
All such questions tabled between May 2010 and
Answering questions tabled for written answer on a named day with short deadlines is challenging for the FCO, as officials in London often have to consult colleagues in other time zones around the world. However, the FCO has made no estimate of the average cost of answering questions.