New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: May we have a statement from Labour's principal election propagandist -- I beg the House's pardon; I mean the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster -- on the effect of the coming into force on 1 January of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on accountability by the Cabinet Office? That would enable us to explore the strange fact that repeated questions to Cabinet Office Ministers about the cost, over and above the right hon. Gentleman's £137,000 a year salary, of setting up a separate Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are met with the answer that the figure will be published in the Department's annual report. It just so happens that that will be after the general election. Under the Freedom of Information Act, can we expect the answer to that simple question a little earlier? 

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Peter Hain): I am aware that the hon. Gentleman is a one-man anti-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster band, and I think that he is being very unfair to Lancaster.]