An Opposition day debate in the name of the Leader of the Opposition is scheduled for 8 November 2022 on the following topic:

Papers related to the Home Secretary.

The full text of the Motion as printed in the Order Paper is as follows:

That, given the exceptional security concerns raised regarding the Rt Hon Member for Fareham serving as Secretary of State for the Home Department, this House:

(1) orders that there be laid before this House, within ten sitting days, a return of the following papers:

(a) any risk assessment of the Rt Hon Member for Fareham by the Cabinet Office or the Prime Minister’s Office relating to her appointment

(b) any document held by the Cabinet Office, the Home Office or the Prime Minister’s Office containing or related to

(i) any security breaches by the Rt Hon Member for Fareham

(ii) any leak inquiries regarding the Rt Hon Member for Fareham, including during her time as Home Secretary and Attorney General

(c) the minutes of, submissions relevant to and electronic communications relating to, any meeting within the Cabinet Office or the Prime Minister’s Office at which the appointment of the Rt Hon Member for Fareham, or advice relating to that appointment, was discussed in a form which may contain redactions, but such redactions shall be solely for the purposes of national security; and

(2) recommends that where material is laid before the House in a redacted form, the Government should at the same time provide unredacted copies of such material to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

This motion uses an Order for an Opposed Return to formally request for Government papers to be presented to Parliament.

Erskine May, the authoritative source for information on parliamentary procedure, describes the House of Commons’ powers to call for papers in the following way (Paragraph 7.31):

Opposed Return

The power to call for papers was frequently exercised until about the middle of the nineteenth century but has been used less frequently since then because much of the information previously sought in this way is now produced in Command Papers or in Act Papers, or in response to questions (but see below). The power has a continuing importance since it is regularly delegated to select committees, thus enabling them to send for papers and records (see para 38.32 ) although the House has itself ordered that certain papers be provided to a specified committee or under specified conditions. Returns may be called for by an Order or an humble Address, and it is not always clear which is appropriate. A return from the Privy Council or from departments headed by a Secretary of State is usually called for by means of a motion on the Order Paper for an humble Address. A return from a department not headed by a Secretary of State is usually sought directly by means of an Order of the House, although an humble Address will be appropriate where prerogative matters are closely involved. It is no longer the case that an humble Address is sent formally to the Monarch after such motions are agreed; the understanding is that the Government will comply.

The use of motions calling for a return of papers, both as a basis for debate and in pursuit of the papers themselves, has been revived in the House of Commons in recent years. Since 2018 the House has used the power to call for papers from the Government more frequently, both as a means of forcing a division on an Opposition Day and to secure specific pieces of information that would not routinely be published. The success of such motions depends on cross-party support. The papers called for must be clearly identifiable, but motions have varied in style, from calling all papers of a particular category to more detailed reference to specific papers. The long-standing practice of the House has been that papers should be ordered only on subjects which are of public or official character. Orders for returns of papers which it transpired did not fall into such categories have been withdrawn or rescinded. The power itself, however, is not so limited. In the case of a select committee with power to send for papers and records, for example, there is no restriction on its power to require the production of papers by private bodies or individuals, provided that such papers are relevant to the committee’s work as defined by its order of reference (see para 38.32 ). Although the opinions of the law officers of the Crown given to Ministers have generally been withheld from Parliament (see para 21.27 ), the failure of the Government to comply with a resolution calling for the production of the Attorney-General’s legal advice to the Government has been judged to be a contempt.


Related posts