POINT OF ORDER – PRESS LEAKS – 18 December 2000

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your further guidance on the leaking of the contents of White Papers by Government Departments to the press, in advance of statements being made to the House. You will recall that I raised the matter twice on points of order, on 28 November and 7 December. On the latter occasion, you assured me that you

"would disapprove of giving someone sight of a White Paper or of any discussion of its content." – [Official Report, 7 December 2000; Vol. 359, c. 134.]

before a statement was made to the House.

I apologise for not raising this point of order last week, as I was abroad with the Select Committee on Defence.

Your assurance to me was given on 7 December. On Sunday 10 December there were detailed reports in both The Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph of the contents of the communications White Paper, about which a statement was not made to the House until Tuesday 12 December. I should be grateful if it would be possible for you and members of your staff to investigate how, so soon after your previous guidance on the matter, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport flouted it.