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Parliamentary Papers (Distribution)

Volume 480: debated on Monday 13 November 1950

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On a point of order. In a few moments, Sir, we shall be discussing a Motion standing in the name of the Foreign Secretary:

"That this House takes note of the deliberations of the Council of Europe."
On Thursday, the Lord President of the Council, when asked a supplementary question, said that certain documents would be available in the Vote Office on Friday. To the best of my information, those documents were not available until 3 o'clock. Friday was rather a slack day and business ended early, except for the debate on the Adjournment, and, at the time the documents were available few hon. Members were present.

The number of copies delivered to the Vote Office by the Stationery Office was 600—fewer than the number of Members of Parliament. These documents were not circulated with the Parliamentary papers which hon. Members received on Saturday. The result was that most hon. Members of this House had no opportunity of obtaining these very important documents until they arrived at the House some time today. It seems to me very deplorable that we should be discussing documents, containing 51 recommendations and 19 resolutions, which 90 per cent. of hon. Members had no opportunity of seeing until today. I wonder whether some step cannot be taken ïn future to see that hon. Members are not better served with regard to important documents of this character.

There is nothing that I can do about it. I am informed that the papers arrived at the Vote Office at noon on Friday and were then available to hon. Members. Only about 60 copies were asked for. All we could do then was to notify hon. Members about them on the pink paper next morning. Having received only 600 they could not be distributed to 625 Members, so I was powerless.

While it is true that they arrived at noon, Sir, they were not available until 3 o'clock. A pink paper completed by an hon. Member on Saturday would be received in the Vote Office today, and the hon. Member would receive the documents tomorrow morning. Therefore, I think some protest should be made to the Department of State responsible. Hon. Members have been deprived of the opportunity of seeing documents without which one cannot properly debate the subject of the Foreign Secretary's Motion.

If only 600 copies are received for 625 Members they cannot be distributed to all, so it is not our fault here.