§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Prime Minister if she will list the statutory provisions which govern the availability to various categories of person of Cabinet and ministerial papers and documents; if there are any statutory provisions which specifically refer to access by Ministers and Prime Ministers in this connection; and if she will introduce legislation to make provision for such access in circumstances where maladministration, neglect and failure to protect the realm are involved.
§ The Prime Minister
A number of statutes relate generally to acess to official documents, including, for example, the Official Secrets Act 1911, the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967, as amended, and the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967. There is no statutory provision which specifically relates to access to Cabinet and ministerial papers by Ministers or Prime Ministers. I do not propose to introduce legislation of the kind suggested by the hon. Gentleman; in my judgment these matters are best dealt with by constitutional conventions.