Select Committee on Public Administration Second Report

Letter from the Rt Hon Frank Field, Member of Parliament for Birkenhead

  I am writing with some further instances of inappropriate answers to Parliamentary Questions that I hope may be of some use to your inquiry.

  Copies of the questions are enclosed, but it might be helpful if I offer a brief summary of what I think is unsatisfactory about each answer.

  1.  HMT Reference: 0026N 00/01: This is a question to try and establish how many people were awaiting payment of their National Insurance rebate for each financial year for which there have been delays, and how many people were awaiting rebates from more than one financial year.

  The answer to this question refers me to a reply given in May 2000 simply stating the number of people awaiting rebates from for two tax years. I do not see how the information requested can be calculated from this answer.

  2.  HMT Reference: 0027N 00/01: This is a question asking the Treasury to set out the basis of a calculation they had done for me.

  The reply simply states who did the calculation—not the information I requested. Indeed the answer to the previous question stated who did the calculation.

  3.  HMT Reference: 3474N 99/00: This is a question asking the Treasury for some very straightforward information on the National Insurance upper earnings limit.

  The reply refers me to a document in the Library. This is not only inconvenient for a Member, it also means that the information is not part of the public record of Parliament.

  4.  PQ 2862/1999/0: This is a very similar case to that above where the answer refers the Member to a document in the Library.

  5.  Privy Council Reference 138503: After receiving masses of holding answers I tabled a Parliamentary Question asking how many of the questions I had tabled since 23 October had been replied to initially with a holding answer.

  The reply was that just one of 51 questions received a holding answer. As my correspondence with the Leader of the House makes clear, I have many more holding answers than have been recorded by the Library's system which is used to answer questions.

  I hope these are of some use to your inquiry.

Frank Field MP

13 December 2000

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