Written Evidence

Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Note on submitting written evidence

Authority to Require the Production of Evidence

The ODPM has, under the terms of the Standing Order by which it is appointed by the House of Commons, the power to send for persons, papers and records.  This means that the Committee can require the production of papers or the appearance of witnesses.  However,  these draconian powers are rarely required as the Committee usually finds that most people and organisations are willing to respond to an invitation, viewing it as an opportunity to present their opinions to Parliament.

These notes are intended to help you in the preparation of your memorandum - termed evidence - to the Committee or a Sub-committee.  They are not intended to be prescriptive. 

Scope of Memoranda

Members of Parliament daily receive a mass of papers. Your memorandum is more likely to command attention if it is succinct and to the point, although lengthier memoranda may be required for broad topics or from key organisations.  In particular, your memorandum should address matters raised by the Committee's inquiry and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise.  These considerations should not, however, be viewed as an instruction to curtail the length of your memorandum to the extent that pertinent information is excluded.

For the most part, your memorandum need only include material specifically prepared for the Committee, although, of course, it is perfectly acceptable to quote from other sources for critical or illustrative purposes.  If you wish to include information or papers that have been prepared for a different forum, please annex them to your memorandum.  This mechanism can also used for information which you think the Committee may find helpful as background but is not directly relevant to its inquiry.

Timescale

The letter or press notice inviting you to submit evidence will provide a deadline for submission.  If you have received both a letter requesting evidence and a press notice, you may find that the deadlines given differ.  In this case, you should abide by the deadline given in your letter, as the one in press notice will be intended for more general, unsolicited submissions.   It may not be possible for the Committee to consider any papers submitted after the deadline. Please contact the Clerk of the Committee if you think you may need an extension.

Printing and Publication

The Committee has sole discretion over printing or publishing your submission. It may make it publicly available without printing it or show it to other witnesses.  Normal practice is for the Committee to publish all the evidence it receives.  If you give oral evidence to the Committee, your written evidence will normally by made public at that time.  If you wish to make public use of your submission, or part of it, before the Committee publishes it, you should contact the Clerk of the Committee who will be able to guide you on gaining the Committee's permission.

If your written evidence contains material which is classified, commercially confidential or where publication would be sensitive in any way, the memorandum or relevant parts of it should be clearly marked accordingly.  Your covering letter to the Clerk should specifically mention such limitations and include a request that the Committee treat the sections concerned confidentiality.  Such requests are usually treated sympathetically.

Layout and content

It is helpful if your memorandum is laid out in the following manner.

The ....... INQUIRY (insert title of the Committee's inquiry)

MEMORANDUM by ....... (name of your organisation)

The use of side-headings throughout memoranda is encouraged.  One short section at the beginning of the memorandum should describe your organisation  and its explain its relevance to the Committee's inquiry.  For lengthy memoranda, say above five or six pages, a summary is useful.  This can be incorporated after the introduction.  Pages and paragraphs should be numbered.  Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered.  Please avoid the use of coloured graphs or pictures unless absolutely essential.

The name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for submitting your memorandum should also be included at the end of the document.  Memoranda should also be dated.

Delivery

Memoranda sent in hard copy should be printed on white paper where possible as this makes it easier to photocopy.  All memoranda should be accompanied by a covering letter to the Clerk of the Committee giving the title of the inquiry to which you are submitting evidence and drawing attention to any parts of the memorandum which you would rather the Committee did not publish (see paragraphs 5 and 6).  It is also helpful if you indicate whether you or your organisation would be willing to appear before the Committee to give oral evidence.

Your memorandum should be sent to The Clerk of the Committee, ODPM Committee,  House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA, Email:  [email protected] Fax: 020 7219 6101.

Please send an electronic version (Word, Wordperfect, rich text or PDF) of your memorandum if at all possible as this greatly reduces our printing costs. 

Once Your Memorandum Has Been Received

Whether a memorandum is accepted as formal evidence, and therefore whether it attracts parliamentary privilege, is a decision for the Committee.  Should there be an reason why the Committee might not wish to accept your evidence (such reasons usually relate to intemperate language), you will be informed immediately.

Every submission is acknowledged.  If you have not received an acknowledgement within a few days please contact the Clerk of the Committee.  Your evidence and any other material you send is made available to every Member of the Committee.  In a small number of cases, once the Committee has had the opportunity to consider a memorandum, it may decide to call the author to give oral evidence. From time to time, the Committee may instruct Committee staff to follow up matters raised in your memorandum in writing in which case you may be asked to submit a further memorandum.

The Committee almost invariably publishes all the evidence it receives.  You may be asked to check proofs of your evidence prepared by Committee staff in advance of publication.  This may happen some months after you originally submitted it.  When the Committee has completed an inquiry it usually publishes a Report.  A copy of the Report is automatically sent to all those to submitted evidence.

Queries

If you have any queries, please contact the Clerk of the Committee who will be pleased to advise on any aspect of submitting evidence, or indeed, on general matters relating to the Committee. Please call on 020 7219 4972; e-mail to [email protected], send a fax to 020 7219 6101 or write to the Clerk of the Committee at the address given above.

Jessica Mulley, Joint Clerk of the Committee (26.6.05)