Monday, January 19, 2009

An honest MP (possibly)

Via Bishop Hill, it seems that a Liberal Democrat, Jo Swinson, has put forward an EDM against the disgusting idea that MPs' expenses should be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009
Primary Sponsor: Jo Swinson (LD, East Dunbartonshire)

That this House notes with concern the provisions in the Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009 to exempt remove the expenses of Members of Parliament and Peers from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act’; notes that this order will single out MPs and Peers in a special category as the only paid public officials who will note have to disclose full details of their expenses; notes with concern the regressive effect of this Order on Parliamentary transparency and the detrimental impact it will have on Parliament in the eyes of the public; calls on Ministers to block or repeal the Order in the interest of MPs’ and Peers’ accountability to members of the public.

Unfortunately, I am unable to verify this EDM, as it does not yet appear on the Parliament EDM website. As such, I am also unable to see who has signed it, but I am sure that Douglas Carswell will be leaping in there with gusto. Eh, Douglas?

As Quaequam blog points out, there is also a letter-writing campaign being launched but it needs to be done very swiftly so, please, send that email...

UPDATE: here's your humble Devil's missive to Keith Hill MP. I'm not sure that it strikes the right note, but never mind (he has, after all, maintained that he will not enter into any more correspondence with me).
Dear Keith Hill,

As you are no doubt aware, a statutory instrument known as Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order will shortly be passing through the House.

As you are also no doubt aware, this instrument will allow MPs and Peers an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act, and thus allow them to hide aspects of their expenses claims.

Naturally, I cannot understand why MPs and Peers should wish to do this for, as numerous Home Secretaries have assured us, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Nevertheless, I imagine that you are as shocked as I at this deliberate attempt to conceal from taxpayers the manner and the matter in which their money is being spent.

As such, I would urge you to sign the EDM—Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009, sponsored by Jo Swinson—which proposes a solid opposition to this statutory instrument.

I am sure that you—as a member of the Labour government which introduced the FoI Act in the first place—place as much value on the transparency of our democracy as I, and I look forward to seeing your name upon the list of signatories.

Yours sincerely,


I couldn't be any more polite now, could I?


Peter said...

Great letter DK.

Night Watchman said...

Hill's majority is 7,466. He's obviously feeling lucky...

Devil's Kitchen said...

He's standing down at the next election. His Labour replacement is Chuka Umunna who is, in the words of a friend who has met him, "so much a consummate politician that he made me want to throw up."


Anonymous said...

By the mere act of questioning your master, you are being extremely impolite, DK.

You need to understand that our masters in parliament understand things better than we do and you and I, therefore, have no business whatsoever questioning their wisdom or their ethics.

Members of Parliament: superior fucking beings.

returnoftheheroes said...

very good letter, far better than the one i wrote, so i hope you don't mind but i have been using yours instead as an example when emailing my friends about contacting their MP.

Anonymous said...

Hola DK

I just used your letter as a template to write to my MP. ALthough she still hasn't replied to the last one I wrote her about the arrest of Damian Green. Funny how she only seems to reply when she is crowing about some purported Government success....

Avid Fan

captainff said...

A friend sent the email (it's proving popular) to his MP Charles Walker who replied swiftly with

Thank you for your e-mail. I am afraid I no longer sign EDMs as more than 2,500 are tabled each year and they seem to have no impact whatsoever on Government policy or its direction of travel.

I agree that the Government is trying to "bounce" the SI you refer to through Parliament by announcing such a late change to this Thursday's Business. Unfortunately, in my case they have succeeded in wrong-footing me as I am away from Parliament from mid-day onwards, so I will be unable to express my displeasure. I imagine the Government will use its payroll vote to get this SI through the House.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Walker

dombie said...

My version- nowhere near as good as yours but cribbed from they work for you before i saw yours-

I am writing to request that you support Jo Swinson's early day motion and vote against the draft FOI SI. I am sure that you will appreciate the concept of greater government transparency, particularly in this time of economic downturn.

I would hope you would agree that the public has a right to see how their tax money is being spent and that, so the general public is told they if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear from ID cards; similarly honest and accountable MP's should find nothing to fear from the publishing of their expenses.

Its being sent to Tony Lloyd, so i expect nothing in return