HL Deb 06 July 2004 vol 663 c71WA
Lord Jopling

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Ministry of Defence and the Northern Ireland Office will explain why they currently have 26 and 30 House of Lords Written Questions respectively awaiting reply of the 85 such Questions which have lain unanswered for over 21 days, when the standard period for replies is 14 days. [HL3319]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos):

All government departments endeavour to answer Questions for Written Answer within the 14 day deadline. I regret, however, that it has taken so long to answer these Questions.

The majority of the overdue Ministry of Defence questions relate to operations in Iraq and in many instances this has meant contacting personnel there to obtain details to be able to answer them. Clearly personnel on operations are subject to operational pressure which can result in delays in obtaining the information required.

A number of the Northern Ireland Office questions have required co-ordination between several parts of the Northern Ireland Office and the 11 departments of the Northern Ireland Administration which has occasionally resulted in the deadline not being met.

I can assure the noble Lord that officials in both departments are working hard to provide the necessary information and ensure that the outstanding Questions are answered as soon as possible.

Lord Avebury

asked the Leader of the House:

Whether she will take steps to ensure that Ministers date the copies of Written Answers which are sent to Members. [HL3492]

Baroness Amos:

My office has written to all government departments requesting that, wherever possible, Answers to Written Questions are dated.