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Parliamentary Questions (Use of Library)

Volume 580: debated on Thursday 8 May 2014

6. If he will ensure that Ministers place documents in the Library in accordance with their answers to parliamentary questions. (903913)

This is a matter for individual Departments. However, I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that the Office of the Leader of the House provides best practice guidance on answering parliamentary questions to all Departments, which states that if reference is made to documents in response to a parliamentary question, copies of the documents must be placed in the Library.

On a number of occasions, I have received answers to parliamentary questions that say that information has been placed in the Library, only to find that it has not been placed there and that it does not arrive until quite a while later. Before we get into naming and shaming Ministers and Departments, will the Deputy Leader of the House take steps to ensure that that poor practice does not happen again?

I agree that if an answer to a parliamentary question refers to information being deposited in the Library, that should happen in a timely manner. I would be happy to remind Departments of the requirements and to take up any cases on behalf of the hon. Gentleman, should he wish to give me the details. We tried to identify the question to which he was referring. If he provides that information, we will follow it up.

Much as I hate agreeing with the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), he is absolutely right on this occasion. The worst of it is that the Leader of the House is about—I have a sneaking suspicion—to let all Ministers off the hook, because the moment he prorogues early, all the questions lapse and no Minister has to do anything. I urge him not to prorogue until the day before the Queen’s Speech, so that Ministers have plenty of time to get all their answers in order.

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that I am certain that all Departments will do everything they can to ensure that questions are responded to before Prorogation.