UK & World News

  • 5 July 2014, 14:20

MPs Slammed For 'Dodging' Written Questions

Fewer than half of all written questions submitted to Parliament get a straight answer, according to the most extensive survey of its kind - revealed exclusively by Sky News.

Only 46% of written questions were satisfactorily answered since January 2004.

The most evasive departments in Whitehall are the Department for Work and Pensions, which the public thought fully answered only 39% of questions, and the Treasury, on just 37%.

The Wales Office is seen as the most straight talking, with a 66% answer rate.

Among individual politicians, Gordon Brown and John Prescott came out worse, with 16% and 21% respectively.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband are evenly matched, on 38% and 36%, but Nick Clegg is far ahead of both of them, on 54%.

However, individual ratings could be affected by the department where that politician works.

The percentages are based on data collated by the website They Work For You, run by charity mySociety.

Over the last decade, users have been able to vote 'yes' or 'no' on whether a parliamentary question has been fully answered.

The website has collected 275,000 votes on 128,000 written questions and answers.

MySociety's communications and marketing manager, Myfanwy Nixon, said: "These types of insights are only possible because of internet technology.

"The internet gives us the ability to crowd-source tiny bits of data like this, which, over the period of 10 years, mount up to make meaningful figures.

"From 275,000 mouse clicks, we understand more about whether an entire process is working in Government."

It found that the main political parties were evenly matched in terms of answering questions fully, with the Conservatives answering 45%, Labour on 47% and the Liberal Democrats also on 47%.

But this Government is slightly more evasive than the previous one, answering 45% of questions fully compared to 47%. The answer rate for 2013 was only 41%.

A Government spokesperson commented: "Written questions are an important part of the parliamentary process and should always be answered accurately.

"A robust process exists which reports on the accuracy of answers. The Leader of the House follows up evidence of poor performance and encourages best practice."

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