Select Committee on Public Administration Second Report


Letter from the Chairman to Members of Parliament


  As you know, the Public Administration Committee carries out an annual inquiry into Ministerial Answers to Parliamentary Questions, seeking to identify the reasons why information is withheld, and whether certain Departments are more forthcoming than others and to encourage all Departments to specify the article of the Code on Access to Government Information under which answers are refused. This Session, for the first time, an analysis will also be carried out of the number of questions which are not answered on the grounds of "disproportionate cost".

  The Committee understand that there is a further long-standing problem which causes irritation to Members. This concerns answers which reply only to part of a question; ignoring the rest.

  The Committee are anxious to establish the extent of this problem in order to decide whether it too should be monitored on a regular basis. They therefore invite Members to send any examples to the Clerk of the Committee by 14 April. One or two good examples are more useful to us than lots of more marginal ones.

  While the Committee are aware that Members may be dissatisfied with answers for a variety of reasons, they are seeking information here only about cases where Ministers ignore part of a question.

  Thank you for your assistance with this.

Dr Tony Wright MP

16 March 2000

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