The work of the UK Border Agency (December 2011-March 2012) - Home Affairs Committee Contents

10  Co-operation with Parliament

MPs' correspondence

98. The Agency has introduced MP Account Managers to provide a faster response to MPs' enquiries and has set itself service standards for completing "further action referrals" and answering MPs' emails.

99. The Agency aims to complete 90% of further action referrals sent by MPs within 10 working days.
No. received
No. completed within 10 working days
% completed within 10 working days
Q1 2011
Q2 2011
Q3 2011
Q4 2011

Table 10: % of further action referrals completed within service standards

100. We note that the Agency came within a few percentage points of achieving its target for completing actions in response to referrals by MPs in every quarter of 2011, and that performance is slowly improving. We hope that the Agency will continue to provide this high standard of service.

The Agency has also committed to answering 95% of MPs' emails within 20 working days.
No. received
No. answered within 20 working days
% answered within 20 working days
Q2 2011
Q3 2011
Q4 2011

Table 11: % of MPs' emails answered within service standards

101. Constituents often turn to their MP for help when they feel they have exhausted other avenues. An approach from an MP will therefore often be the conclusion of many months of wrangling by the constituent in correspondence with the Agency, trying to resolve their problem. It is important therefore that the Agency makes every effort to improve its performance and meets its service standards in this area. Our immigration and asylum system must be robust but fair and a core component of a fair system is giving people an answer to their case as soon as possible, not leaving them to hang on in uncertainty. We welcome the good progress the Agency has made towards meeting its target of responding to 95% of e-mails from MPs within 20 working days. However we emphasise that its responses must contain the information requested in order to be of value. Otherwise it is simply pushing the problem further down the line.

Provision of information to this Committee

102. The way in which the Agency provides us with information has long been a point of contention. Although the style and punctuality of their responses have improved from previous submissions there is still a long way to go.

  • Some of the information submitted to the Committee has been confusing and difficult to analyse because it has lacked key information that would have put different figures in context.[68]
  • The Agency has consistently missed the deadlines we set for it and, when submitting its follow up evidence, missed its deadline extension as well. Late evidence jeopardises the timeline of our inquiry, putting strain on the Committee's future programme and inquiry schedule.
  • The Agency has been patchy in notifying us when it will not be able to meet a deadline. On one occasion it gave us considerable notice and told the Chair. On others it has sent a non-committal email with no explanation for the delay or expected date of delivery, with only minutes to go until the deadline. We find this attitude unacceptable and discourteous.

103. We acknowledge that the Agency is slowly improving its performance in this area. However the way in which it interacts with the Committee is not always that of an organisation which, in the words of its Chief Executive, is striving to be transparent and open. We want to have a co-operative relationship with the Agency which is why we are working to identify a consistent set of key metrics that we will form the bulk of our quarterly information requests. We hope that the Agency will play its part too.

68   Note: Examples include: inaccurate figures as a result of a typo, inappropriate data comparisons e.g. quarterly figures compared to annual and apparent discrepancies between the same data provided in narrative and in table format with no contextual explanation to clarify. Back

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Prepared 23 July 2012