§ 1.6 pm
§ Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Would you say a word about the question put to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House by the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) about his being referred to a parliamentary answer on the internet? While I suspect that the relevant information might also have been made available in the Library, is it not also the case that the Library can secure information for a Member from the internet if a parliamentary answer refers to it?
The positive benefit of using the internet is that, for the first time, answers can be made available nation wide to any member of the public not only throughout the United Kingdom but across the world. The parliamentary answer given to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is historically significant in beginning a process of opening up the House of Commons. I recognise that the Library has an important function for us, but the answer opens out information in a way that many of us would wish to welcome.
§ Madam Speaker
It is of course good to put answers to questions on the internet so that they may be available to a much wider audience. However, I take the view that answers should be printed in Hansard for us all to see. By all means, put information on the internet, but when a Member asks a question, I like to see the answer in Hansard.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. The relevant question asks for the publication ofproceedings of histhat is, the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's—recent conference on the future of agriculture"—[Official Report, 27 January 1999; Vol. 324, c. 302.]It may be that the proceedings in question would have consumed the whole of Hansard. It may therefore have been totally impractical to place all the proceedings in Hansard.
§ Madam Speaker
We do not know if that is so, and it would have been helpful if the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food had let us know whether the answer would have consumed the whole of Hansard. I need no argument about this matter on the Floor of the House: I want answers to be printed in Hansard. By all means let us publish to a wider reading audience through the internet, in addition to Hansard.