§ Mr. Flynn
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many letters have been passed on to her Department's correspondence unit in each month since May 1997; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) how many and what percentage of correspondence answered by her Department's correspondence unit receives a full response in (a) a week or less, (b) one to two weeks,(c) two to three weeks,(d) three to four weeks, (e) between one and two months, (f) over two months and (g) over six months; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) how many and what percentage of correspondence answered by her Department's correspondence unit receives a holding reply prior to a full response; 
(4) how many people are employed (a) full-time and (b) part-time in her Department's correspondence unit; 
(5) under what circumstances correspondence sent to her Department is passed on to the correspondence unit; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Denham
The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.732W
During the period May to September 1997, departmental Ministers received around 25,000 letters from hon. Members, members of the public and others. This compares with around 15,000 letters received by Ministers during the same period last year. The figures for each month are as follows:
align="center">Total letters received 1996 1997 May 3,244 4,124 June 3,003 5,458 July 4,043 6,948 August 2,149 4,374 September 2,897 4,136 Total 15,336 25,040
A correspondence section attached to Ministers' offices, which has 13 full-time staff, receives all correspondence and seeks advice from officials, including those in the policy correspondence unit. Other units and officials elsewhere in the Department also deal with correspondence.
Our target is to reply to all letters within 20 working days. Ministers reply personally to about 30 per cent. of letters. The target response time has been achieved for 42 per cent. of letters in the last five months. Detailed figures are shown in the table:
Ministerial replies issued align="right">Number of days Up to 20 21–40 40+ May Number 68 0 0 Per cent. 100 0 0 June Number 278 58 0 Per cent. 83 17 0 July Number 556 525 76 Per cent. 48 46 6 August Number 485 569 214 Per cent. 38 45 17 September Number 349 629 368 Per cent. 26 47 27
1. Figures for turn around times of correspondence answered by officials are not available.
2. Figures for the number of holding replies are not kept but all letters are acknowledged shortly after receipt.
We remain committed to answering all correspondence within 20 working days and are taking active measures to reduce turnaround times.