Preparation

Part of Orders of the Day — Government Resources and Accounts Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 am on 29th February 2000.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 5:45 am, 29th February 2000

While I entirely agree with the gist of what my hon. Friend says, I suppose that the idea is that, dulled by late nights and the insensibility of poor memory, we shall have forgotten by the time these things are being done that they are being done and will not ask for the information in parliamentary questions; or, if we ask, we shall be told, according to the Financial Secretary's arguments, that it is a bit expensive to produce, so we shall never get it.

What we are facing, therefore, is a Treasury that would like to be well informed about all of the Government's activities, but would like to make sure that we are not. That is not a satisfactory position. It is not even a defensible one. I am astonished that the Financial Secretary has sought to defend it. I had genuinely thought that we were dealing here with a drafting omission. I beg the Financial Secretary to look at this again, and ask himself whether as a matter of fact publishing the information is not in this case the absolutely evident requirement under any rational interpretation of the purposes of the Bill.