HC Deb 03 November 1995 vol 265 cc477-8W
Mr. Alfred Morris

To ask the Prime Minister what are the conventions whereby civil service Departments take steps to consult the Opposition about their policies towards the end of a Parliament; and when such steps are planned to be taken before the end of the current Parliament. [40883]

The Prime Minister

The convention has been that, by authority of the Prime Minister, towards the end of a Parliament or when a general election has been called, Opposition parties may arrange, with the authority of their party leaders and through the head of the civil service, contacts with senior civil servants. These arrangements are designed to allow briefing on factual questions on departmental organisational changes which Opposition parties have in mind or which may result from Opposition party policies. Any exchanges would be confidential. Following the last general election, I told the leader of the Opposition that I would be content to authorise confidential exchanges between senior civil servants and Opposition spokesmen from January 1996.