HC Deb 12 June 1995 vol 261 cc488-9
10. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has for advancing open government in Wales. [26040]

Mr. Richards

The Welsh Office has published and distributed widely a bilingual leaflet that explains how to make a request for information under the code of practise on access to government information. A bilingual code has also been published on openness in the NHS.

In the first nine months of operating the code, the Welsh Office provided information free of charge in response to more than 1,000 requests. Some 99 per cent. of those requests were dealt with in the target of 20 working days.

Mr. Hughes

In that case, will the Minister investigate whether the code and those principles apply to his own Department, given that, on 2 March, in the debate on Welsh affairs—at column 1236—the Secretary of State said that the Countryside Council for Wales had been given perfectly adequate funds to meet its statutory requirements. The fact is, however, that the council had appealed privately to the Secretary of State because it did not have adequate funds even to meet its minimum requirements, let alone for what it wanted to do.

Can we have not just words, codes and charters from the Welsh Office, but open government that will reveal to us when the Secretary of State does not tell the House what has actually been going on and what the facts are?

Mr. Richards

The hon. Gentleman is poorly informed. The Countryside Council for Wales was given more and, indeed, subsequently confirmed that it had had enough. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman return to his basic data and, if he so wishes, write to the council. I am sure that, under the code of practice, it will give him the accurate information that he so direly needs.