Official Information

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd August 1978.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West 12:00 am, 3rd August 1978

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received on the subject of the supply of official information to the public since the publication of the White Paper on official secrets on 19th July.

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

Assuming that my hon. Friend is referring to written representations, the answer is six as of:31st July.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

Is my right hon Friend aware that the form of the White Paper has caused very great problems in regard to the difference between what we promised at the last General Election about open government and what the Government now seem willing to do? May I ask him a little more about paragraph 49 of the White Paper, in which a detailed study about official information is mentioned? When will the study start, and when does he expect it to be completed?

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

With regard to manifesto commitments, if my hon. Friend examines that matter he will find that the vast majority have been carried out.

This is a most complicated matter. Even if one had moved more quickly, the chances of getting it on to the statute book would not have been very high.

We said in paragraph 49 of the White Paper what we proposed to do. We are now moving on that. I cannot give a date as to when it will appear. However, I put it to my hon. Friend that, although the experience abroad is valuable to us, whatever we do we must relate to the experience of this country and we must not simply paste into the statute book something which has been done in different circumstances abroad.