Sarah is being blighted by postage problems. It seems that whenever she writes to a member of the government they take months to respond or the letter is delayed.

Here’s an example.

Letter sent – 14 Oct 2004

Parliamentary question asked to chase up – 4 March 2005

Reply sent – 22 February 2005

Another. Two on the 22nd of Feb, here and here. Another from the 21st Feb.

Extremely late replies, letters not received at each end – poor filing perhaps? The government have a clear need for better ‘customer relationship management’ as these delays are not just a few days out of service level agreement. Yet the MOD claim they met their 15 working day target for answering all correspondence. But then it appears to have gone missing between leaving the desk of Adam Ingram and arriving at the desk of Sarah Teather.

Here is the most recent case from yesterdays Hansard, worth reproducing here in full.

Sarah Teather (Brent East, LDem) Hansard source

‘To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letter dated 13 May 2004 from the hon. Member for Brent, East regarding Mr. John Clegg.’

Bill Rammell (Harlow, Lab) Hansard source

‘My right hon. and noble Friend the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister responsible for our relations with Iraq, replied to the hon. Member’s letter on 11 March. Unfortunately we only received the hon. Member’s letter on 16 February 2005.’

I’m not entirely sure what’s worse… That the Foreign and Commonwealth Office took 10 months to respond to a letter sent to them by a Member of Parliament is really poor. That it tool Sarah 11 months to chase up her letter of 13 May 2004 doesn’t convince me that she was sincere about the subject of her communique. The final demonstration of inadequacy is that the reply has still not been received 10 days after it was sent.