Skip to main content

Ministerial Papers: Confidentiality

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 29 January 1981

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

3.14 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether newly elected Governments are entitled to see pledges or undertakings given by departments to the public or to local authorities which have been given during their predecessors' term of office.

My Lords, papers of the nature described by my noble friend would not normally fall within the long-standing convention that Ministers do not see any papers indicating the views of their predecessors of a different party.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much for that reply because it clears the air considerably over a row that is going on at home. Can my noble friend now answer whether the replies given by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, in a debate on Wisley airfield on 2nd December are not invalidated by the Answer given by my noble friend?

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Trefgarne in fact made a Statement to this effect to the House immediately after that debate, which I think set the record straight.

My Lords, is the Minister really saying that if I reach a planning agreement with the appropriate department, as one does on occasions, a change of Government will mean that that department, with which I am agreed, is not to know that it has an agreement with me?

My Lords, it means exactly the opposite to what the noble Lord has said. It says that the incoming Minister can know of this fact. There are other matters which a Minister is not entitled to know on taking office. But that he is entitled to know, although of course he is not bound to pursue identical policies.

My Lords, if the old Government that gave the pledge subsequently returns to office is the pledge, as it were, ressurrected?

My Lords, long before that happens I have no doubt that the matter will have reached fruition.