HC Deb 02 May 2000 vol 349 c16W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to the oral statement by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 5 April 2000,Official Report, columns 1021–29, concerning advice to Ministers, what impact the statement will have on the availability of information about the Cabinet Joint Consultative Committee, with particular reference to the dates of future meetings; the names of those invited to participate; and the topics to be discussed. [118930]

The Prime Minister

In the passage referred to, my right hon. Friend was speaking about factual and background information which has been used, or is intended to be used, to provide an informed background to decision-taking. In particular he clarified that further amendments would be made to clause 13 to ensure that there was a significant route for the release of such information.

The Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) is a deliberative committee. It does not have a decision-making role within collective Cabinet responsibility.

The release of information relating to discussions of the JCC would be subject to the proposed exemption in Clause 34 2(b) (ii) of the Bill, if its disclosure would inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. It would then have to be considered, under clause 13 of the Bill, whether the public interest in disclosing the information outweighed the public interest in maintaining the exemption.