HC Deb 15 July 1997 vol 298 cc191-2
31. Mr. Miller

To ask the President of the Council what plans she has to propose changes to the format of the Order Paper. [6722]

Mrs. Ann Taylor

The Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons is currently considering ways in which the Order Paper might be made more user friendly.

Mr. Miller

My right hon. Friend may have noticed the event being staged outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre for Plain English Week. In view of that event and the fact that many hon. Members have great difficulty explaining to our constituents the meaning and structure of the Order Paper, will my right hon. Friend carefully consider revising its format to make it more user friendly? We must avoid the pitfalls that the previous Administration encountered when the Department of National Heritage won the plain English booby prize.

Mrs. Taylor

I certainly hope that a redesigned Order Paper does not win a booby prize. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed concern about the Order Paper's current format. We want to make it more comprehensible, and we think that there is a strong case for applying plain English principles to every document, including the Order Paper. [HON. MEMBERS: "Pictures?"] Opposition Members may need pictures because there are so many new Labour Members. However, we are not considering pictures for the Order Paper.

Mr. Soames

Will the President accept that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Order Paper and that she would be better occupied turning her attention to more important matters? For example, will she try to help the Prime Minister recover his bottle so that he may come to this place twice, rather than once, a week?

Mrs. Taylor

Many people inside and outside the House believe that the current procedure for Prime Minister's Question Time is a significant improvement on the old procedure. [Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen think that it is boring, perhaps that shows that the new procedure is more constructive than the old one. As to the Order Paper, I repeat that we have received representations from hon. Members on both sides of the House about the need for change, which the majority would agree is long overdue.