I gathered via Matt Wardman‘s Blogpower email that the guys in parliament have been extra busy issuing ministerial written statements in the run up to their Summer holidays. A written ministerial statement is 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.
Procedure and policy initiatives of government departments.
That doesn’t sound exactly like the kind of important statement to issue on your last day of term, unless you are hoping that the contents will avoid close media and/or public scrutiny. Thirteen of these statements were released last Friday; today Hansard has a list of over 30:
- Regulatory Impact Assessment Command Paper
- National Statistics Annual Report 2007–08
- Tax and Benefit Reference Manual 2008–09
- EU Funds (Consolidated Statement)
- Free Cash Machines (Low-income Areas)
- Issuer Liability
- HM Revenue and Customs (Office Reorganisation)
- Equitable Life
- Planning Inspectorate Annual Report and Accounts 2007–08
- South East of England Regional Spatial Strategy
- North West England Regional Spatial Strategy
- Preventing Violent Extremism: Next Steps for Communities
- Regeneration Strategy for England
- Free Swimming
- Animal Products (Imports)
- Poultry Register
- Lisbon Treaty (Ratification)
- Official Receptions
- Pharmaceutical Services
- Justice and Home Affairs Informal Council
- HM Chief Inspector of Probation: Appointment Extension
- Legal Services Board
- National Offender Management Service
- Official Receptions
- “Greening Government ICT”
- Access to Statistics
- Regional Accountability
- Correction to Written Answers
- Highways Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2007–08
- Local Transport Bill
- Civil Aviation Authority
- Departmental Agencies
- Employment and Social Policy Informal Meeting
- Social Fund Commissioner
Whether the content of any of these statements – or the dozens more issued in recent days – is critical or not, I’m not qualified to say. I only hope that others who don’t have the luxury of weeks away from their day jobs are able to devote the attention to reviewing them.
With so many statements issued on one day it is hard not to be cynical and imagine more than a few government PR advisors are hoping to bury bad news.