HC Deb 16 December 1996 vol 287 c430W
Sir Roger Sims

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to be able to provide explanatory memoranda with treaties which are laid under the Ponsonby rule. [9430]

Dr. Liam Fox

We accept that explanatory memoranda can usefully supplement the established Ponsonby procedures by bringing to the attention of Parliament the main features of the treaties with which they are laid. In future therefore every international agreement laid under the Ponsonby rule will be accompanied by an explanatory memorandum. This new procedure will apply to all international agreements signed after 1 January 1997 which are laid under the Pensonby rule, namely those agreements which are concluded subject to ratification, accession, acceptance or approval, and which are laid for a period of 21 sitting days after signature and before ratification or its equivalent.

Arrangements will be made to lay copies of the note for Departments entitled "Guidelines on Explanatory Memoranda for Treaties" in the Libraries of both House.

We should like to thank Lord Lester of Herne Hill, whose initiative led directly to the introduction of the new arrangements.

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