Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I know that you are not responsible in any way for the quality of Departments' replies to written questions, but I believe that the named day procedure was put in place to limit the number of questions that we ask on a given day for written answer so that we would have a good chance of getting a decent answer to them. In mid-December, I tabled a series of very specific questions about the assassination of Georgi Markov in 1978, bearing in mind that next year the statute of limitations will run out for any possible prosecution of the alleged assassin, Francesco Gullino. I was given a holding answer on 19 December saying that a reply would be given as soon as possible, but I have had to wait until 8 March to receive the substantive answer, which reads:

“The investigation into the death of Georgi Markov is a matter for the Commissioner of metropolitan police.” – [ Official Report, 8 March 2007; Vol. 457, c. 2164W.]

I could just as easily have been told that on 19 December and not have lost two-and-a-half months. Is it not part of the deal that if the Department is going to give an answer such as that it should give it on the named day?