HC Deb 29 June 1961 vol 643 cc656-7
41. Mr. Peyton

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that many communications emanating from Government departments are impolite, of excessive length and unnecessary; and if he will instruct all departments to review their rules for the sending of communications, whether they be letters or forms and whether the purpose be to obtain or give information.

The Prime Minister

I hope that there are no letters or forms sent out by Government Departments that deserve my hon. Friend's strictures. If my hon. Friend would like to send me particulars of any specific complaint, I should, of course, be glad to look into it.

Mr. Peyton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at one time or another most members of the public have received some of these communications which are unnecessarily terse? Is he aware that there is a failure by many Departments to accept the fact that courtesy and efficiency often go hand in hand? Does he not agree that it would be a great public benefit if some check could be administered to the immense avalanche of paper which falls out upon us?

The Prime Minister

I realise that in sending out these forms, particularly in the operation of various welfare schemes, it is necessary to obtain information. I will try to see that the information is obtained in the best way possible. The most important thing about the forms is that they should be intelligible.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if only Government Departments were to answer ordinary citizens in a reasonable kind of way the correspondence of hon. Members of this House would be considerably reduced because they would be saved the necessity of having to clear up these things afterwards?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that that is a very fair stricture on the Government service as a whole. I think that hon. Members find that in trying to carry out their duties they get a great deal of assistance from Government Departments.