Parliamentary Questions (Use of Library)

Oral Answers to Questions — Leader of the House – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 8th May 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 9:30 am, 8th May 2014

If he will ensure that Ministers place documents in the Library in accordance with their answers to parliamentary questions.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

This is a matter for individual Departments. However, I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that the Office of the Leader of the House provides best practice guidance on answering parliamentary questions to all Departments, which states that if reference is made to documents in response to a parliamentary question, copies of the documents must be placed in the Library.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

On a number of occasions, I have received answers to parliamentary questions that say that information has been placed in the Library, only to find that it has not been placed there and that it does not arrive until quite a while later. Before we get into naming and shaming Ministers and Departments, will the Deputy Leader of the House take steps to ensure that that poor practice does not happen again?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I agree that if an answer to a parliamentary question refers to information being deposited in the Library, that should happen in a timely manner. I would be happy to remind Departments of the requirements and to take up any cases on behalf of the hon. Gentleman, should he wish to give me the details. We tried to identify the question to which he was referring. If he provides that information, we will follow it up.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

Much as I hate agreeing with Philip Davies, he is absolutely right on this occasion. The worst of it is that the Leader of the House is about—I have a sneaking suspicion—to let all Ministers off the hook, because the moment he prorogues early, all the questions lapse and no Minister has to do anything. I urge him not to prorogue until the day before the Queen’s Speech, so that Ministers have plenty of time to get all their answers in order.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that I am certain that all Departments will do everything they can to ensure that questions are responded to before Prorogation.