Postal Services Bill
Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)
I see. So the hon. Gentleman has clearly recognised my superior skill in drafting amendments. He has invited me to amend the Bill so that it is a duty for the Secretary of State or the Chancellor to make the information available to Parliament. He asks why a statement does not need to be laid in Parliament for any loan or grant given to the company or any indemnity given to a postal administration. A statement is required for any guarantee under clause 79. The requirement for a statement on any guarantee given is to satisfy and comply with the current public expenditure rules in relation to the giving of guarantees by Government to create transparency, because guarantees would create future contingent liabilities. That is why that is in clause 79.
If necessary, nothing would prevent the appropriate Minister from reporting to the House at the time with details of the loan, grant or indemnity given. Indeed, given Mr Speaker, with whom we are currently blessed in Parliament, it is almost certain that he would grant an application for an urgent question.
Public spending rules do not expressly require such a position, but it might reassure the hon. Gentleman that such information would, of course, be readily available from the relevant Department’s annual reports and accounts. I hope that I have cleared up the matter.