Orders of the Day — House of Commons (Administration) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1978.

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Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Southwark Bermondsey 12:00 am, 12th April 1978

The report decided that Hansard should be linked with the Clerk, and in the Bill there is reference to the Department of the Clerk of the House. There is no reference in the Bill to Hansard being a separate department per se. It follows from that—it must be so; it is the only interpretation that can be placed upon it—that because Hansard is not mentioned in the Bill as a separate department it will be tagged off, if that is the correct term, into the Clerk's Department. There is no other interpretation.

Indeed, that is part of the case of Hansard. I have discussed this matter with some of the staff—excluding the Editor and Deputy Editor, who of course would be somewhat embarrassed if I included them as being part of the argument. I am talking of the staff of Hansard. There can be no interpretation for them other than that because the report said that Hansard would be associated with the Clerk, it follows from what is in the Bill that the Clerk's Department will be responsible for Hansard. The only way in which that can be remedied is for Clause 4 to mention not five Departments, but six, and I shall table an amendment to say that there should be a department of Hansard, which will clear up this anomaly.