The Government make major policy announcements to the House in the first instance when it is sitting. However, the demands of modern government make it impossible to avoid making any announcements at all when the House is not sitting.
The Minister for Housing, the right hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), made substantial policy announcements on Friday that could just as easily have been made on Thursday or today. What assurances can the Leader of the House give us that until Parliament returns in September there will be no announcements that can wait, especially given that it is returning early in September? The House needs to be able to scrutinise legislation properly.
It is precisely because the Government want to keep the House informed that there are 32 written ministerial statements on the Order Paper today. We have brought forward announcements that might otherwise have been made in August in order to keep the House fully in the picture. I am not aware that any substantial policy announcements are to be made during August.
Will my right hon. Friend look favourably on a request that when consultation is announced over the summer—as it is in one of today’s written ministerial statements—a certain amount of injury time will be allowed to enable those of us who wish to take soundings from our constituents to do so adequately, and subsequently to respond?
I think I am right in saying that the Government have set out guidelines in best practice to assist the consultation process, and I hope that the process to which my hon. Friend refers observes those guidelines, and that she will have an opportunity to consult her constituents in good time before it ends.
Will the Leader of the House ensure that when the Government have made up their mind about their policy on rape anonymity, it will be communicated when the House is sitting, especially given that there is another leak in today’s papers suggesting that the Government have reversed their stated position?
The right hon. Lady knows that no legislation on rape anonymity is planned for the current Session, but of course the Government will make their views on the issue known at the right time. Before she waxes too indignant, let me remind her that the then Prime Minister announced at last year’s party conference—when the House was not sitting—substantial changes of policy on a national care service and a referendum on the alternative vote.