Hansard (the Official Report) is the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons debates and the House of Lords debates.
Government ministers can make written statements to Parliament as well as oral ones. Oral statements often address major incidents, policies and actions. Written ministerial statements are normally used to put the day-to-day business of government on the official record and in the public domain.
History of written statements
Until 2002 the government mainly used written answers to make statements – by getting a backbench MP to table a written question drafted by the government department. The need for these ‘arranged’ or ‘planted’ questions was removed in October 2002 when a new system allowing written statements to be printed independently in their own section in Hansard was introduced in the Commons. The Lords did the same in January 2004.
Content of written statements
Written ministerial statements 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
Access to written statements
A list of daily written ministerial statements is printed in the Order Paper. Where the government has indicated that it will make a written ministerial statement on a future day this is recorded in Future Business.
Today’s scheduled written ministerial statements
Once they are received by Parliament, they will be published on the Parliamentary website.
The full text of written ministerial statements is available the following morning in Hansard.