How do we get clear answers for questions in Parliament?

There are many questions each year that get asked by MPs that are directed to the Government and there is a theoretical answer process that takes place involving a Government Minister. However far to often the questions that arise are more or less ignored by the Ministers. Inevitably some of the questions do not gather a great deal of interest but many of them do. Tragically when a Minister answers the question if the answer is not sufficient or competent, there does not seem to be a way to challenge them. Sometimes other MPs ask a similar question and sadly far too often the Minister tells the additional MPs that they should go back to the answer that was provided. Inevitably some of the MPs set out to try to get a more directed question subsequently. However it does seem very disturbing that time and time and time again, the Ministers ignore or reject the real content in the question and it seems very infrequently that any subsequent answers arise. There surely needs to be a way of this being challenged for our concerns and the concerns of our MPs. Here is a classic example that took place several days ago on the 11th August. At this time of year there are not many questions being raised by MPs but my MP did ask a question nearly two weeks ago. The question and the answer can be seen here and it is below. The inadequate answer came from Kevin Foster.

Specific Question: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) permanent, (b) full-time equivalent, (c) agency and (d) other status staff were working in HM Passport Office in each year since 2016.

Poor Answer: Staffing numbers at Her Majesty’s Passport Office has increased by over 1200 since April 2021. Its recruitment will continue to cover any attrition, to ensure the passport service remains fully resourced.

We are committed to ensuring public services are run as efficiently and effectively as possible. Given the elevated demand will not continue indefinitely and is directly linked to the estimated 5m passports not renewed during the pandemic period, it is appropriate to have flexible resources available. Therefore, while there has been recruitment of civil servants, the use of agency workers is appropriate in this context.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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