HC Deb 04 June 1951 vol 488 cc682-3
45. Brigadier Smyth

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the shortage and cost of paper and the present increasing wastage of manhours in all Government Departments in form filling and the drawing up of reports and returns, he will issue instructions to all his Ministers that there must be a reduction of all unnecessary forms and paper generally.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister does not by any means accept all the assumptions of the hon. and gallant Member's Question. He would, however, refer him to the reply which was given by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 10th April to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew, East (Major Lloyd).

Brigadier Smyth

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that those at the receiving end of Government paper—doctors, chemists, farmers, teachers, soldiers, sailors and others—complain loudly about the number of forms and certificates they have to sign? Would the right hon. Gentleman consider, therefore, in the interests of economy and efficiency, making a 10 per cent. cut in the consumption of paper in Government Departments?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think we had better deal with this by theoretical methods. Every effort is made by the Government to keep this kind of activity down to the minimum, but we must have information if only to satisfy Members of the Opposition in putting Parliamentary Questions.

Mr. George Jeger

Is my right hon. Friend aware that out of the preceding 44 Questions 32 have come from the Opposition asking for information, which required the drawing up of reports and returns? Does my right hon. Friend not regard information given to the Opposition on so large a scale as a waste of manpower, time and material?

Mr. Morrison

I could not agree more.