Correcting the Record

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:28 pm on 24 October 2023.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 4:28, 24 October 2023

I beg to move,

That this House
approves the Fourth Report of the Procedure Committee, Correcting the record, HC 521.

It is a pleasure to open this debate on proposals put forward by the Procedure Committee in its fourth report of this Session. I would like to thank the Committee and its Chairman for their work on this important matter. The House is being asked to consider the expansion of the formal ministerial corrections process to all MPs. It is an important principle that all Members of the House—be they Ministers of the Crown, Members of the official Opposition, or Back-Bench Members—adhere to high standards of accountability and openness. We have a similar responsibility to provide accurate information.

The obligation on Ministers is to ensure the information that they provide to Parliament is accurate, as set out in the ministerial code and the House’s 1997 resolution on ministerial accountability, and Ministers take that obligation very seriously. The current system for ministerial corrections is well established following the House’s approval of the 2007 Procedure Committee report on the subject, and the Government believe that the process relating to Ministers’ corrections is generally effective. The lack of a formal mechanism for Members of the official Opposition and Back-Bench MPs, however, means that there is no clear way of identifying a correction given and linking it to the original statement, and the public should not have to work their way through Hansard before finding that correction. The Government therefore welcome the proposed expansion of the formal corrections process, and believe that this change would improve the clarity and transparency of corrections.

In addition, the Government agree with the Procedure Committee in its assessment that the existing procedural mechanisms for challenging the accuracy of contributions made in the House are sufficient. The House is also asked to endorse further recommendations from the Committee regarding the visibility and accessibility of corrections, which are that cross-referenced hyperlinks provided in the Official Report should be improved; that cross-referenced hyperlinks currently used in the ministerial corrections system should also be added to the corrections made through points of order and other oral contributions; and that corrections should be easier to access through the creation of a central corrections page.