Letter from The Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe,
Member of Parliament for Maidstone and The Weald
I am writing in response to Dr Tony Wright's
letter of 16 March requesting examples of Parliamentary Questions
where part of the question had been ignored by the Minister.
There are a number of good examples of recent
questions tabled by the Opposition Front Bench where Home Office
Ministers have failed to answer part of the question.
Question Number 116259 (Official
Report, 24 March 2000, Column 704W). The Home Secretary did
not answer the part of the question on press releases regarding
improvements in website access times.
Question Number 115823 (Official
Report, 22 March 2000, Columns 560W-561W). The Home Secretary
did not answer the part of the question on drug abstinence orders
that asked whether magistrates' courts would be able to make the
Question Number 113279 (Official
Report, 6 March 2000, Column 556W). The Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State did not answer part (c) of the question on pilot projects,
asking whether he expected his final decisions to differ from
his provisional decisions.
Question Numbers 107034, 107029 and
107033 (Official Report, 27 January 2000, Column 250W).
The Home Secretary did not answer part (1)(a) of the question
on jury trial, which asked for the average cost of an appeal hearing
in the Crown Court. I asked a further question to obtain this
information, to which the answer on average cost was provided,
on 2 February 2000 (Official Report, Column 599W). No answer
was given to the specific points raised in part (1)(b) of the
question, or parts (2), (3)(a) or (3)(b).
Question Number 115036 (Official
Report, 17 March 2000, Column 381W). The Home Secretary did
not answer the part of the question asking whether a record was
kept of his Special Advisers' contact with the press. A further
question was asked on this, to which the Home Secretary replied
on 23 March 2000 (Official Report, Column 677W).
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but
I hope that it provides some good recent examples of the way in
which Home Office Ministers have failed to answer part of a question
that will be useful to the Committee in compiling its report.
Ann Widdecombe MP
14 April 2000