COMMONS

Written Parliamentary questions: monitoring report

The report says that departments are improving their timeliness in the answering of parliamentary questions, but must do more
13 February 2014

The Government’s response rate in the answering of parliamentary questions has improved, the Committee found in its latest report entitled Written Parliamentary questions: monitoring report

However, the timeliness of certain departments in providing responses is significantly below average. Therefore, the Procedure Committee will continue to monitor the performance of all departments and will intervene where it feels that MPs’ questions are not being answered in an appropriately timely fashion.

The Committee is particularly concerned at the timeliness of responses provided by Defra, the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Chair wrote to these departments in October asking for further information, and the replies showed that each department is aware of the problem and is taking measures to improve performance. There was also concern about the performance of the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. However, these latter departments alerted the Committee to performance issues in advance and reassured it that remedial action was underway. The Committee is grateful to them for their constructive approach to this. The correspondence referred to is available on the Committee website.

The Chair of the Committee, Charles Walker MP, said:
“Parliamentary questions play a vital role in the scrutiny of Government policy, so we are very pleased that performance improved between the first two sessions of this Parliament. However, the response rates of some departments were below what should be expected. They have reassured us that they are on top of the problem and that we will see a further improvement in the current parliamentary session. We will continue to monitor the performance of all departments and will intervene where we feel that MPs’ questions are not being answered with sufficient swiftness.”

The Report can be downloaded for free at 11am from the Committee’s website under publications, or it can be bought from the parliamentary bookshop (http://www.shop.parliament.uk/) and The Stationery Office (http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore.asp).

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