HC Deb 11 November 1996 vol 285 c9
8. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what actions he is taking to promote greater openness in central Government. [1305]

Mr. Freeman

I announced to the House last week by way of written answer that the Government's code of practice on access to Government information will continue to have a central role in setting the clear, recognised standard for providing information both to Parliament and to the public.

Mr. Foulkes

Did my hon. Friend understand that?

Mr. Banks

No, I did not. Two words spring to mind in response to that answer: the first is "bull".

If the Minister is really interested in open government, I have a perfect example of where he could start. There are no fewer than 12 unexploded bombs in my constituency and my constituents would like to know where they are located. Will the Government release that information? It is most unpleasant to think that one may be living on top of an unexploded bomb. As I live in my constituency, there could be one under my house—I would regret that deeply—so there is a certain amount of self-interest involved in my question. Will the Government release that information so that my constituents may know the facts and those unexploded bombs may be dealt with?

Mr. Freeman

The hon. Gentleman perhaps has a phobia about not only unexploded bombs but Government plans involving his house. I know that he blames the Deputy Prime Minister personally for the route of the channel tunnel rail link, which I believe passes directly under the hon. Gentleman's bedroom. I am afraid that there is no prospect of changing the route.

The hon. Gentleman's question about unexploded bombs is perfectly serious. The information that he requires is at the Public Record Office. During wartime, it obviously was not possible to trace exactly where all unexploded ordnance landed in London, but I shall convey the hon. Gentleman's concerns to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and see whether the hon. Gentleman can receive a comprehensive reply.