HL Deb 16 December 1999 vol 608 cc66-8WA
Lord Mason of Barnsley

asked the Chairman of Committees:

What are the rules governing the provision of papers, official reports, documents, the Stationery Office publications and papers on the Stationery Office daily list to Members of the House of Lords; what are the restrictions on numbers and cost; and whether they will list the organisations and government bodies who provide such services. [HL266]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)

The rules and practice of the House concerning the provision of printed papers to Lords are set out on pages 58 to 60 of theCompanion to the Standing Orders. In general terms, Lords are entitled to draw free of charge from the Printed Paper Office (PPO) such current parliamentary papers and other publications as they clearly require in order to discharge their parliamentary duties. The guidance in the Companion may be summarised as follows.

Lords are entitled to one copy of parliamentary papers, which are described in the Companion as those papers presented to, or laid before, Parliament, together with the other working papers of the House, such as the Minute, Hansard and Committee reports. Many parliamentary papers can be ordered (via the PPO) to be sent to a Lord's home address on a regular basis.

Lords are also entitled to obtain non-parliamentary government papers up to a price limit, which now stands at £65. Government publications above the price limit, and privately published papers, are not supplied free of charge unless they are specifically referred to in a Motion or Unstarred Question entered on the Order Paper for a particular day. As a general rule, Lords are expected to consult such papers in the Library.

Restrictions on the number and cost of papers to which Lords are entitled are indicated above. A limited number of further copies of parliamentary papers can be made available if Lords can show that they are required for the discharge of their parliamentary duties; and Lords are entitled to up to six copies of the Lords' Hansard in which their speech is reported. Government publications which are not available free of charge may be ordered through the PPO; such papers are despatched to Lords, together with an invoice payable to the publisher.

The bodies responsible for the provision of parliamentary papers to Lords are the PPO and The Stationery Office. Papers are not, in general, made available to the House free of charge by government departments, other bodies or The Stationery Office, and they therefore have to be purchased by the PPO on behalf of the House. In addition to its role as printer and publisher of House papers, The Stationery Office is responsible for the dispatch to Lords of papers ordered on a regular basis.