HC Deb 22 July 1997 vol 298 cc523-4W
Mr. Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list for each Cabinet Office policy review currently in progress or scheduled(a) a description of the purpose of the review and (b) its expected date of completion. [10196]

Dr. David Clark

We are committed to reviewing ministerial accountability, and my right hon. Friend the President of the Council has asked the House of Commons Modernisation Select Committee to consider the means by which the House holds Ministers to account. The Government will be ready to put a paper to the Select Committee in the autumn.

On quangos, we have announced that our intention is to reduce overall numbers, Official Report, 4 June 1997, column 192, and we are also committed to enhancing the openness and accountability of these bodies.

The outcome of both these reviews will be set out in the White Paper on "Better Government", the publication of which I announced in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg), Official Report, 3 June 1997, column 119.

We have conducted a review of the existing code of practice on access to Government information to ensure that it can provide an adequate level of openness in the period until our proposed freedom of information Act comes into force. We have concluded that the discretionary elements of the code allow sufficient flexibility to achieve this. However, changes to the code may be considered if this proves not to be the case.

Like all Government Departments, we are also participating in the comprehensive spending review, the results of which will be published in the next 12 months.

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