Government ministers can make written statements to Parliament as well as oral ones. Oral statements often address major incidents, policies and actions. Written ministerial statements are normally used to put the day-to-day business of government on the official record and in the public domain.
Written ministerial statements are often used to provide or announce:
- Detailed information and statistics from the government
- The publication of reports by government agencies
- Findings of reviews and inquiries and the government's response
- Financial and statistical information
- Procurement issues
- Procedure and policy initiatives of government departments
Access to written statements
Since 2014, Written statements have been available online shortly after receipt in Parliament.
They are also published the next day in Hansard Online. Written statements prior to 2014 are also available in Hansard.
Notice of the day's written statements is given in the Order Paper. Where the government has indicated that it will make a written statement on a future day this is recorded in Future Business.
History of written statements
Until 2002 the government mainly used written answers to make statements - by getting a backbench MP to table a written question drafted by the government department. The need for these 'arranged' or 'planted' questions was removed in October 2002 when a new system allowing written statements to be printed independently in their own section in Hansard was introduced in the Commons. The Lords did the same in January 2004.