Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Written Ministerial Statements

It's worth keeping an eye on Hansard - not just for what was said in the Chamber - but for the Written Ministerial Statements. You can see the details of last Thursday's WMSs here.

It was practice before 2002 for written questions to be used for important, but not major,statements to be made. The most important were, and still are, made to the Chamber itself - allowing the opportunity for further questioning. A government backbencher would be asked to put down the written question - which became the vehicle for the statement. Such "planted" questions became unnecessary when a new system was introduced which gave a special section in Hansard to Written Ministerial Statements.

In the Order Paper which appears on the day the WMS is to appear - notice is given. This appeared at the end of Tuesday's Order of Business

Written Ministerial Statements to be made today

1 Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Financial support to students.
2 Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer: Northern Rock plc.
3 Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: Local government.
4 Secretary of State for Defence: Afghanistan—Aircraft deployment to ISAF.
5 Secretary of State for Health: Healthy Children, Safer Communities: A strategy.
6 Secretary of State for the Home Department: Justice and Home Affairs Post-Council statement.
7 Secretary of State for the Home Department: Autumn Performance Report 2009.
8 Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Making choice and control a reality for disabled people: Government response to the consultation on the Right to Control.

According to Parliament's website: WMS are often used to provide or announce:

Detailed information and statistics from the government.
The publication of reports by government agencies.
Findings of reviews and inquiries and the government's response.
Financial and statistical information.
Procurement issues.
Procedure and policy initiatives of government departments