Minister rejects claims of MoJ 'cover up'

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Labour has criticised the Ministry of Justice over the length of time it takes to respond to written parliamentary questions.

Graham Jones, Hyndburn MP, said on 8 May 2014 he was still waiting for an answer to a question he submitted on 10 March, as well as a "chase-up question".

"It makes it impossible for members to hold the executive to account and is a discourtesy to my constituents if ministers simply do not answer these questions," he said.

The deputy leader of the House, Tom Brake, responded by saying the complex nature of justice matters meant a thorough response "can take time", on 8 May 2014.

But he agreed Mr Jones' situation was "simply not good enough" and said he was sure the justice secretary would "want to take on board his complaints".

Opposition frontbench spokesman Thomas Docherty said he was "disappointed" the leader of the House was not prepared to take the issue up with the department.

Only the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had a "greater deterioration in performance" of answering written questions than the MoJ last session, he said, and asked Mr Brake: "Is the department for justice covering up information or is it just completely incompetent?"

The Lib Dem minister insisted he had spoken to the department and indicated "very strongly" that it is something the secretary of state must address.

But he added: "I'm sure that it is a matter of dealing with the question and ensuring a detailed response is provided, rather than a cover up as I think he is implying."

Earlier in the hour-long session MPs put questions to Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and his ministerial team.

Topics ranged from regulation of the taxi industry to road safety for cyclists, and training for those employed in the construction of HS2.

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