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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3211

Mr Lionel Bowen asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 27 February 1 980:

(1)   Did he inform the House on 25 May 1978 that henceforth, within 6 months ofthe tabling of a committee report, the responsible Minister would make a statement in the Parliament outling the action the Government proposes to take in relation to the report and that if the 6 month period expires during a Parliamentary recess, the ministerial statement will be made at the earliest opportunity in the next Parliamentary sittings (Hansard, pages 2465-6).

(2)   If so, how many Parliamentary committee reports have, within 6 months of their tabling, been the subject of a ministerial statement to Parliament outlining the action the Government proposed to take in relation to them.

(3)   How many Parliamentary committee reports have been tabled since 25 May 1978.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes. In the same statement I made it clear that there would be some committee reports to which this procedure would not be appropriate.

Members should appreciate that procedures to implement this undertaking are new and will be reviewed in the light of experience to ensure their effective operation.

The Government 's undertaking has broken new ground in the treatment by a Government of the reports of Parliamentary Committees. No previous Government has been prepared to give such an undertaking and in the past this has resulted in many reports and much valuable work of Parliamentary Committees passing unheeded.

(2)   and (3) As at 16 May 1978 153 reports have been tabled since 25 May 1980. Of these: 98 reports either required no response (as they dealt with matters of house management or the processes of Parliament or other matters which by their nature do not require a response) or were subject to separate procedures for a response (e.g. reports of the Public Accounts and Public Works Committees) 35 reports have been responded to (including 7 responded to within 6 months or at the earliest opportunity following expiry of the 6 months period during a Parliamentary recess) 1 1 reports, to which responses have not yet been made, are outside the 6 months period. Members will be aware that Ministers have given interim responses, in the form of either statements or responses to questions, in respect of a number of reports for which a Government response has been overdue 9 reports, to which responses have not yet been made are still within the 6 months period.

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