HC Deb 11 June 1952 vol 502 cc202-3
45. Mr. Driberg

asked the Prime Minister if he will instruct Ministers answering Questions that, when information on a matter of general interest is not immediately available, they should usually undertake to circulate it in HANSARD rather than to convey it by private letter to an hon. Member.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill): The usual practice is for Ministers to circulate answers to Questions in the OFFICIAL REPORT. But where the matter is not of general interest or importance, or the information asked for is detailed and not immed

Mr. Driberg

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on one recent day one Minister answered half a dozen Questions in this way by saying that he would write to the hon. Member when he had found out what the answer was? Without wishing to press this too far. for instance in regard to individual cases, may I ask whether the Prime Minister would not agree that, as a general principle, when a Question on a matter of general interest is on the Order Paper, the answer should be equally available for all hon. Members?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member has expressed the position so well that I do not think I need add anything to it.

Mr. J. Hynd

While the Prime Minister says that this practice is not without precedent, is he not aware of the fact that at least one of his Departments is using this practice as almost the common form of answer to Parliamentary Questions, that I have had to open a special file for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and that on several occasions I have had to write to get the reply eventually?

The Prime Minister

Anything which is in the public interest ought to be circulated to the House, but it would be a great pity if matters that were not of public interest and that went into great detail should encumber and add to the large amount of printed matter that we all have to study.