HL Deb 02 August 1971 vol 323 cc993-4WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the precedents of the free distribution, through the Post Office or other channels, of documents comparable to the popular version of the White Paper on the E.E.C.


Before deciding to embark on the production of information publications in connection with the Common Market negotiations the Government naturally considered previous instances—some from the time of previous Administrations—where it had been found necessary to make available information on important public issues. From these cases the Government concluded that there was ample justification from past practice for giving the country clearly and simply the information which has been in wide demand and for reporting the outcome of the negotiations which were initiated by a decision supported by an overwhelming majority of the House.

Among the many cases considered by Her Majesty's Government as having a bearing on the question of precedents were the following: A free pamphlet in wallchart form called"Upswing ", one of a series published by the Department of Economic Affairs, sent to industrial firms, trade unions and other recipients in July, 1967, following the publication of the Government's Statement of Application to the E.E.C. (Cmnd. 3345); a short version of the White Paper on Fuel Policy (Cmnd. 3438), published in November, 1967, of which 240,000 copies were given free to the National Coal Board for distribution within the industry, and a short version of the Geddes Report on The Shipbuilding Industry (Cmnd. 2937) published in March, 1966, 100,000 copies of which were sent to all in the shipbuilding industry. The Shipbuilding Industry Act was enacted in June, 1967. In addition, between 1950 and 1967 Budget posters were issued annually as soon as possible after Budget Day and before the passing of the Finance Act. Copies were made available for display in post offices and sent to local government, industry, educational institutions and political parties.