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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
MPs angry at written statements
Parliament
More than 100 written statements were issued this week
The number of written statements issued by the government in the final days before Parliament's summer recess has angered opposition parties.

With more than 100 statements published on the eve of the 76-day holiday, shadow Commons leader Theresa May said it showed "disdain" for MPs.

The Lib Dems said the government's reluctance to share information at an earlier stage bred suspicion.

But Commons leader Harriet Harman said the timing was for "practical" reasons.

'Look ahead'

Among written statements issued were the guest list at Chequers, the cost of ministerial cars, new guidance from the Environment Department on tall buildings, and enhancements to the Barking-Gospel Oak railway line in London.

Ms Harman told MPs: "There is a question as to whether or not departments look ahead, make sure they can give a written statement to this House, rather than either holding up decisions until October or putting them out to the media during the recess.

SUBJECTS OF STATEMENTS
Tax arrangements for flood victims and update on flooding situation
Defence storage
Immigration reform programme
Childcare system
Petitioning of Parliament
Setting up of Equalities Office
Spending on ministerial cars
Consulation on the role of attorney-general

"It is simply a practical issue."

Statements were also issued showing that the Child Support Agency has outstanding claims of 3.5bn, that a landmine destroyed an RAF Hercules in Afghanistan, and that former prime minister Tony Blair's "farewell tour" cost taxpayers more than 1.5m.

Ms May said the timing raised suspicions that bad news was being buried, adding: "It doesn't give members of Parliament proper opportunity to be able to assimilate the information and then be able to question ministers."

Ministers had shown "disdain" for Parliament "in a whole variety of ways", she said.

For the Liberal Democrats, Norman Lamb - who had repeatedly asked for the Chequers guest list to be released only for it to be given to a Labour MP - said: "Fundamentally I believe in open government and I think secrecy breeds suspicion.

"It is absolutely staggering that it has taken so long to extract this information.

"The government has attempted to block the publication of these details to the Liberal Democrats at every turn and then decided to release the information to a Labour MP alongside scores of other announcements.

"The government introduced the Freedom of Information Act. It is remarkable to see how resistant it is to complying with it."




SEE ALSO
Blair's country guests revealed
25 Jul 07 |  UK Politics
Ministerial cars cost almost 6m
26 Jul 07 |  UK Politics
Harman made equalities secretary
26 Jul 07 |  UK Politics



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