List of Ministerial Responsibilities

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 16th July 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Labour, Denton and Reddish

When his Department plans to publish an updated list of ministerial responsibilities.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

The list of ministerial responsibilities document was last updated in October. It is taking longer than usual to compile a new document, and that is in part because Ministers have been focused on responding to the challenges of covid-19. An update will be published when possible.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Labour, Denton and Reddish

I am grateful to the Minister for that update, but of course it is not just the booklet; the responsibilities of individual Cabinet Office Ministers have not been available on the gov.uk website, so perhaps that could be updated too. The Cabinet Office has been particularly resistant to transparency and slow to share information in recent times. It is one of the worst performing Departments in responding to freedom of information requests, despite being responsible for FOI policy. In 2019, the Cabinet Office was the Department that was referred the most to the Information Commissioner’s Office. What is the Minister doing about this?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

I hope it is the case that Cabinet Office Ministers—the team here today—have accounted for ourselves and our responsibilities adequately. I know that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and I, and all the Ministers, look forward to coming here to do exactly that, and ensuring that all our correspondence, parliamentary questions and all sorts of other things are properly answered. I hope that hon. and right hon. Members can use the contact details that are already available and those that have been updated during covid to ensure that Parliament can rightly get the information that it requires from our Department.

On the particular issue that the hon. Gentleman refers to on transparency and freedom of information, of course the Cabinet Office proudly leads the way in assisting the rest of Government in our duties under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and other proactive transparency measures that we have put in place over the years to ensure that citizens can get the information that they need and deserve. We intend to continue leading the way, and we think it is very important to do so.