§ Mr. Collins
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what the average response time was to departmental correspondence from Government departments to(a) members of the public and (b) hon. Members in the last 12 months; 
(2) what percentage of letters from (a) members of the public and (b) hon. Members exceeded the average response time in each year since 1998; 
(3) what the target response time is to departmental correspondence in Government departments; and what percentage of letters exceeded the target response time in each year since 1998; 
(4) when he will publish the latest Government statistics on the volumes of and performance on departmental correspondence. 
§ Mr. Douglas Alexander
I have been asked to reply.
Departments' handling of hon. Members' correspondence is published in the form of an annual report. For details of departmental performance in 2001, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley, on 24 May 2002, Official Report, column 674–76W. The handling of correspondence from members of the public forms one of the six service standards that focus on the performance of the main central government departments and agencies in dealing with the public. Details of Departmental performance against these standards has previously been published by the Cabinet Office in the form of an annual report. The last report covers the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001 and was published at the end of July 2001. This and previous reports are available in the Library of the House.
In future, Departments and agencies will be required to report on their progress in improving handling of correspondence as part of their Service Delivery Agreements which will be published in departmental annual reports and on departmental websites.