HC Deb 10 November 1977 vol 938 cc871-3
The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Charles R. Morris)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the supply to hon. Members of non-parliamentary papers published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

The House will recall that you, Mr. Speaker, asked the Leader of the House and the Minister for the Civil Service on 27th July last to look into this question as a matter of urgency. Consequently the Leader of the House and I have re-examined the existing arrangements against the background of the various expressions of concern in this matter.

My right hon. Friend and I do, of course, fully appreciate the importance which hon. Members attach to being able to obtain those publications for which they apply. At the same time, however, due regard must also be had for the legitimate interests of public expenditure. We have sought to secure a proper balance between these two aspects by a reworded demand form which places greater emphasis on the responsibility of an hon. Member for determining which official publications are essential for the discharge of his or her parliamentary duties. Moreover, any decision to decline to make available to an hon. Member a publication for which she or he has asked will be made by a Minister.

Copies of the new demand form are now available, and I ask hon. Members to ensure that they use the new version.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and I hope that hon. Members generally will find that these new arrangements represent a helpful improvement. I propose to keep the arrangements personally under review.

Mr. George Cunningham

May I express gratitude to the Member who raised the matter in July and to the Minister for making his statement today, particularly just before the Budget Resolutions, as we have already wasted enough time today and it would have been a pity to waste more on those Budget Resolutions if the statement had not been made in the sense in which it has been made?

Can the Minister confirm that in future, in particular when a Member indents for the up-to-date version of the Taxes Acts, it will always be supplied to him unless the circumstances are such that the Minister personally feels able to go to the Member indenting and explain that there is some reason why he thinks abuse is taking place?

Mr. Morris

I am pleased to give my hon. Friend the assurance that, provided he or, indeed, any other hon. Member complies with the revised wording on the green form, he will not be refused such reasonable requests.




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