Select Committee on Public Administration Ninth Report



Evidence from Departments

      • We recommend that departments respond to our letter concerning ministerial refusals to answer questions within the Government's own twenty day target for responding to correspondence (paragraph 13).
    1. Citing the Relevant Exemption

      • Despite twice recommending this before (and twice having it accepted by the Government), we recommend again that where departments withhold information under an exemption of the Code of Practice they cite the relevant exemption in their written answers (paragraph 17).
    2. The Continuing Dissatisfaction of Members

      • We recommend that wherever practicable the full answer to a written parliamentary question should be placed on the official record. (paragraph 21).
    3. The Influence of Commercial Confidentiality

      • We re-iterate our support of openness in public life and call on the Government to ensure that the public interest is put above all other considerations by increasing the openness of parliamentary answers. (paragraph 24).
    4. The Quality of Responses

      • We recommend that this Committee, through its Chairman, should be asked by the Speaker to refer unsatisfactory answers to questions to the Department concerned if requested to do so by a Member, and if such answers are deemed appropriate for such a referral. (paragraph 35).
      • We hope that this report, and those in successive sessions, on parliamentary questions will be debated in the House, either in Westminster Hall or in the Chamber, (paragraph 36).
      • We recommend that the Leader of the House reconsider his decision and publish the quarterly reviews of unanswered and 'I will write' questions in Parliament (paragraph 42).
    5. The Cost of Parliamentary Questions

      • We concur with the Procedure Committee and hope that their recommendation for rationing named day questions should lead to an increase in the quality and speed of answers and urge the House to implement their recommendation. (paragraph 44).


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