1. The Stationery Office (TSO) provides
Departments with electronic and hard copies of both the whole
Order Paper and individual Departmental Questions.
2. Parliamentary Branches identify the officials
who will draft the answers to individual Questions and ask them
to confirm (a) that this is the responsibility of the Departmental
Ministers and (b) that they are the appropriate official to draft
the Answer. If the official advises the Minister via the Parliamentary
Branch that this Question is not the responsibility of a Minister
in that Department, a Minister will then be asked to agree with
this assessment before Parliamentary Branch open negotiations
with another Government Department for the Question to be formally
3. When an official agrees to accept the
Question, the Parliamentary Branch will normally make up a folder
providing the text of the Question, the name of the MP who has
tabled the Question and the deadline for return of a draft answer.
In some Departments, this process is now managed electronically.
4. Parliamentary Branches will then record
either manually or electronically who the Question had been allocated
to, the deadline for return of the draft answer, the date the
Question should be answered in the House and the name of the Minister
who will answer the Question.
5. Parliamentary Branches then monitor the
return of the Question chasing late returns normally on a daily
6. Drafting officials will normally be advised
to draft answers in line with guidance issued by individual Departments.
7. On receipt of draft answers in Parliamentary
Branches, staff will check the answer for correct format, attachments
etc before passing it for approval to the Minister, copying it
to senior officials and other Ministers as appropriate.
8. Any questions or comments from the Minister
on the draft answer will normally be handled through the Parliamentary
9. Once the Question is approved by the
Minister, the Answer will then be issued on the same or the next
Sitting Day. Currently Parliamentary Branches prepare up to 25
copies of the approved answer and distribute these to various
offices in Parliament as well as supplying an electronic copy
on a disk to the Official Report. The Cabinet Office Parliamentary
Branch has answered the first ever written electronic PQ in answer
to a Question from Lord Lucas on 27 March 2001 (WA, Col: 26).