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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 30 March 2006


National School of Government

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Jim Murphy): As part of a review being conducted by Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, into the role and functions of the Cabinet Office, I can announce our intention to establish the
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National School of Government as a separate non-ministerial Department. This change of status will support the National School of Government's strategy to become a more customer-led organisation that is providing a shared service across the civil service and the wider public sector. Further details will be published in a framework document later this year.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Jim Murphy): I am today publishing a report on Departments' and Agencies' performanceon handling Members' and Peers' correspondence for 2005. Details are set out in the attached table. Departmental figures are based on substantive replies unless otherwise indicated.

The footnotes to the table provide general background information on how the figures have been compiled.
Correspondence from MPs / Peers to Ministers and Agency Chief Executives(1)

Target set for reply (working days)Number of letters receivedPercentage of replies within targetTarget set for reply (working days)Number of letters received% of replies within target
Department or Agency
Cabinet Office15637881553797
Department for Constitutional Affairs203,41664203,17992
Court Service15429951535999
HM Land Registry204495155596
National Archives151491001030100
Northern Ireland Court Service(2)151492
Official Solicitor and Public Trustee15171001526100
Public Guardianship Office15134931511299
Crown Prosecution Service15520981547698
HM Customs and Excise(3)181,32151
Department for Culture, Media and Sport184,81778205,08563
Ministry of Defence4155,98962155,37879
Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency15126991520799
Defence Estates(2)1511100
Veterans Agency15287991513899
Warship Support Agency(2)151591
Department for Education and Skills1515,313931518,54786
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs1514,305811512,05175
Food Standards Agency20782*5920738*73
* Letters where Health Ministers have replied.
** Letters where Chief Executive/Chairman has replied.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office(5)2026,94283209,58880
UK Visas(6)1512,84945159,189*45
*Letters where UK Visa officials have replied.
**Letters where FCO Ministers have replied.
Department of Health2020,140802020,15591
Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency10284811034092
NHS Estates(7)2011273209086
NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency205760203286
Home Office (non IND correspondence)159,44576158,89979
Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND)(8)2035,802342041,06353
Criminal Records Bureau10272951047194
HM Prison Service201,154732086880
UK Passport Service10486741052460
Department for International Development154,68680154,59367
Inland Revenue(3)182,99385
*Local tax office delegated figures (where local tax offices have replied direct to MPs)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lord's Office1560871514395
Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers20404632033568
Northern Ireland Office10567681074264
Compensation Agency712567762100
Northern Ireland Prison Service104885103992
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister1510,13581158,93779
Planning Inspectorate8379811024367
Office of the Leader of the House of Commons15504951530297
Scotland Office158277155653
Department for Trade and Industry(9)1511,807721510,82150
Companies House1056981038100
Employment Tribunals Service106193109195
Insolvency Service103394109998
Patent Office10297841049694
Department for Transport158,59386157,84980
Driving Standards Agency1519879158987
Government Car and Despatch Agency716100
Highways Agency15285951528799
Maritime and Coastguard Agency10201001018100
Vehicle and Operator Services Agency151377151694
HM Treasury(1) 0 154,31686152,58584
HM Revenue and Customs(3)184,23172
National Savings and Investments157492152195
National Statistics15189951515591
Valuation Office181883182180
*Local Tax Office 'Delegated' figures (where local tax offices have replied directly to MPs). The marked increase in correspondence in quarters 3 and 4 of 2004 continued throughout 2005 unabated. Clearances during the year were affected by moving some complaint drafters to help to clear Disputed Overpayments. Currently restructuring how we deal with complaints and performance should improve.
**Letters where National Statistician replied on Ministers' behalf
Treasury Solicitor's Department1049981028100
Wales Office1510992158380
Department for Work and Pensions2013,319862010,59690
Appeals Service155098156095
Child Support Agency155,39088155,36799
Debt Management15251001535100
Disability and Carers Service1545110015425100
Health and Safety Executive1012770157777
Jobcentre Plus151,13690151,06290
The Pension Service151,34089151,04298

(1) Departments and Agencies which received 10 MPs/Peers letters or fewer during 2005 are not shown in this table. Holding or interim replies are not included unless otherwise indicated. This report includes letters from prospective candidates prior to the general election. The report does not include correspondence considered as Freedom of Information requests.
(2) Received fewer than 10 letters in 2005.
(3) With effect from 1 April 2005, HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue merged to form HM Revenue and Customs.
(4) Includes a small number of letters from members of the public that received a ministerial reply. Figure also includes some FOI requests, though these represent less than 1 per cent of total reported.
(5) Reduced volume of correspondence compared to previous years reflects the setting up of a central correspondence system and the introduction of a more accurate method of monitoring letters received.
(6) Poor performance caused by backlog of cases and resource issues. Performance for December 2005 was 75 per cent, increased to 81 per cent in March 2006.
(7) Abolished in September 2005.
(8) IND saw an increase in volume of 15 per cent between 2004 and 2005 (6 per cent increase in ministerial, and 21 per cent in official replies). During 2005 all official replies were again signed off by IND senior executive group members which inevitably built delays into the system, but had the effect of significantly enhancing the quality of replies.
(9) Performance slipped last year due to internal reorganisation following a reduction in staff numbers. Launch of new centralised response unit will raise level of performance.
(10)Includes all ministerial correspondence.

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