Ministerial Accountability to Parliament

Orders of the Day — Police Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 1:51 am on 19th March 1997.

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[Relevant documents Second report from the Public Service Committee of Session 1995–96, on ministerial accountability and responsibility (HC 313), the Government's response thereto (HC 67 of Session 1996–97) and the first report from the Public Service Committee of Session 1996–97, on ministerial accountability and responsibility (HC 234).]

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Order [19 March], That, in the opinion of this House, the following principles should govern the conduct of Ministers of the Crown in relation to Parliament:

(1) Ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their Departments and Next Steps Agencies;

(2) It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister;

(3) Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament, refusing to provide information only when disclosure would not be in the public interest, which should be decided in accordance with relevant statute and the Government's Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Second Edition, January 1997);

(4) Similarly, Ministers should require civil servants who give evidence before Parliamentary Committees on their behalf and under their directions to be as helpful as possible in providing accurate, truthful and full information in accordance with the duties and responsibilities of civil servants as set out in the Civil Service Code (January 1996).—[Mr. Carrington.]

Question agreed to.