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.
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.
Content of written statements
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
Procedure and policy initiatives of government departments
Access to written statements
A list of daily written ministerial statements is printed in the Order Paper. Where the government has indicated that it will make a written ministerial statement on a future day this is recorded in Future Business.
From 17 November 2014, written statements are published shortly after receipt in Parliament.
Written statements are also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.