Green Papers

Green Papers are consultative papers on the options that the Government has determined are available to it in a certain policy area, sometimes including suggestions for legislation.

Green Papers tend to be drawn rather widely and may equivocate on government preferences. Green Papers are drafted by civil servants with Ministers.

The Government formally seeks views on the options it has put forward. While a Minister always announces the publication of a Green Paper to Parliament, this is not always in an oral statement to MPs.

Policy-making can take a number of forms and depends largely on the potential scope and impact of a policy, how much it will cost (the degree to which the Treasury is involved) and whether it will require changes in primary or secondary legislation.

There is some hierarchy: a White Paper may follow a Green Paper, but a Green Paper rarely follows a White one.