Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Committee publishes new data on written Parliamentary questions
The House of Commons Procedure Committee publishes a new report on written parliamentary questions and departmental performance in answering them in the 2017 Parliament.
- Read the report: Written Parliamentary questions: Departmental performance in the 2017 Parliament
- Read the report: Written Parliamentary questions: Departmental performance in the 2017 Parliament (PDF 461 KB)
- Inquiry: Written Parliamentary questions: Departmental performance in the 2017 Parliament
- Procedure Committee
As part of its regular monitoring of the written questions system, the Committee has published the performance data on the timeliness of Ministerial answers to written Parliamentary questions in the two sessions of the 2017 Parliament – the 2017-19 and 2019 sessions. The figures are summarised in the Committee's report and published in full in open data format.
The Procedure Committee’s report notes that:
- Written questions continued to be answered in a timely manner. In the 2017 Parliament on average over nine out of ten questions for ordinary written answer received a response within five sitting days, and well over eight out of ten for named day answer received a response on the day named.
- The number of questions tabled for written answer per sitting day since the 2015 Parliament continued to rise. Over 280 questions were tabled per sitting day in that session, which was the longest session in modern times.
- The Committee will continue to monitor Departmental performance on the timeliness of answering questions on the basis of data provided by the Table Office. Departments exhibiting disappointing performance over a sustained period can expect to be required to account for their performance.
The Committee observes that the timely provision of timely answers is one of the ways of ensuring Ministerial accountability to the House of Commons.
In addition to undertaking regular and systemic monitoring of Departmental performance in answering written questions from Members, the Committee will continue its complaint scheme, which gives MPs a route to raise concerns about the quality of answers and to seek redress.
The Committee will take appropriate and proportionate action where there is an indication that the quality of answers is being sacrificed to maintain timeliness standards.
Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee, recently said:
“Today’s Procedure Committee report shows that in the last Parliament a great majority of the questions tabled by MPs were answered in good time by Ministers.
"This is in no small part due to the diligence of the Procedure Committee, which has been monitoring Departmental answering performance systematically in each Parliament since 2010 and demanding action from Ministers where performance has fallen short of the standard expected.
“Parliamentary questions are one of the crucial devices the House of Commons has to maintain scrutiny and to hold the Government to account. As elected representatives asking questions of the Government, MPs are entitled to receive full and timely answers to their questions.
“Maintaining these standards is a key aspect of each Minister’s responsibilities to the House of Commons. The Committee will not hesitate to remind Ministers of their obligations, should we observe that Departments are falling short of the generally good standards achieved in previous Parliaments.”
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