§ Mr. Speaker
I wish to make a statement to the House about the procedure for the provision in the Vote Office of older papers required in connection with debates. This amends the statement made on the same subject by my predecessor on 12th December, 1961, in columns 221–3.
The procedure in force since 1961 has been that in advance of a debate the Ministry concerned is under obligation to supply to the Vote Office adequate supplies of all papers—Statutes, Regulations, etc.—which it considers relevant to the debate in question. But it has been found that Departments, in order to avoid any risk of failing to fulfil this obligation, have tended to supply such an extensive variety of documents and in such quantities that the normal functions of the Vote Office are being seriously interfered with.
I have decided, therefore, to accept the recommendation of the House of Commons (Services) Committee that in future a Department should supply to the Library in advance a list of all those older papers which appear to it to be relevant to a forthcoming debate. Members will be able to consult this list in the Library and to order from the Vote Office such papers as they require, besides, of course, any other papers which they may wish to have. If an order is received at the Vote Office before 4.15 p.m., the paper will generally be available in the Vote Office within two hours; any order received after that hour will be executed as soon as possible, but it may not be until the following morning.
In future, the Vote Office should hold stocks of all Parliamentary papers published during the last two sessions, and not, as at present, one Session.
I believe that these changes will result, on balance, in a better service being available to Members, and I should like to thank the Services Committee for considering this matter and tendering me the advice I have given to the House.