Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Procedure Committee publishes report on Written Parliamentary Questions in 2022–23 Session

The House of Commons Procedure Committee yesterday published its report on Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQs) monitoring in the last Parliamentary Session (2022-23).

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The report provides comprehensive published data on departmental answering performance in the current Session. A record high in the number of WPQs have been tabled per sitting day, up by 4% on the previous Session.

Timeliness

Whilst there was a 3% increase in timely responses, the Committee notes this represents a slower rate of progress compared to the preceding session and reiterates its expectation to see significant improvements in performance across Government over the current Session to reach, and exceed, the previous highs of the 2015–16 and 2016–17 sessions.

The Committee has also asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to write to them within 28 days of the publication of this report, setting out in detail her long-term plans to address the chronic challenges regarding the department’s answering performance to Written Parliamentary Questions.

Quality

The Committee also welcomes the Government incorporating its recommended changes to theGuide to Parliamentary Work. Despite this, concerns remains that the quality of some answers to Written Parliamentary Questions continue to fall short of the standard expected, and that in some instances there is an impression that timeliness appears to be being prioritised over quality of response.

As such, the Committee’s view is that equal weight should be placed on prioritising high-quality answers to Written Parliamentary Questions as to providing answers on time. It also proposes that its successor Committee in the new Parliament investigate the quality of answers to Written Parliamentary Questions in more detail.

Chair comment

The Rt Hon Dame Karen Bradley MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee, yesterday said:

“Transparency and accountability are key tenets of our democracy, and Written Parliamentary Questions deserve to be treated with the same importance as any other scrutiny mechanism in Parliament.

“Whilst overall timeliness has improved, the standard of some responses – as has been repeatedly raised in the Chamber – is simply not up to scratch.

“Our report calls on the Government to embed a culture of transparency and cooperation with Parliament within their departments, and therefore stress the importance of providing detailed and timely responses to WPQs.

“We look forward to working with Members across the House to continue improving the system of Written Parliamentary Questions for the remainder of this Parliament and into the next.”

Further information

 

Channel website: http://www.parliament.uk/

Original article link: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/126/procedure-committee/news/201423/procedure-committee-publishes-report-on-written-parliamentary-questions-in-202223-session/

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