MPs sneaky vote to keep their addresses secret

#1
Our illustrious "right honourables" are finding more inventive ways to keep information directly or indirectly out of sight of the electorate.

A sneaky amendment was tabled without debate to the Political Parties and Election Bill and was voted for in the Commons on Tuesday 3rd March 2009. This amendment was called “Clause 23”.

This clause was not debated and rushed through before the end of the Third Reading Commons rubber stamp stage. It is apparent a "back room" deal was achieved to rush this through in a most undemocratic way.

Points of Order and objections were raised but were slapped down rather abruptly by the Deputy Speaker (Labour), Silvia Heal:

Madam Deputy Speaker: The Chair does not give reasons for a decision that has been made. I have made a ruling, and that is the end of the matter.
The Hansard text regarding this amendment is below:

Hansard Text

See below for Bill:

Political Parties and Election Bill

See link below for the Public Whips Office to see how your MP voted:

Public Whips Office

MPs addresses have always been available on electoral rolls, even during such dark times as the IRA mainland bombing campaigns, and they are suddenly concerned about personal security now!!!!

This is no more than a thinly veiled excuse to keep information away from the electorate making it harder to expose our right honourables doing a “Jacqui Smith”.

Another step closer to an accountable political body. :x

So much for a more transparent parliament. :evil:

More info here:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3
 
#2
As I said in another thread a while back, way back when I was in school I did some work experience in an MP's office. If you knew the number of abusive crazies they had to deal with on a weekly basis, you'd be asking why this didn't happen years ago, as opposed to why it happening now. Keeping expences secret? Wrong. Not wanting a knock on the door of the house your family lives in? Understandable to say the least.
 
#3
parapauk said:
As I said in another thread a while back, way back when I was in school I did some work experience in an MP's office. If you knew the number of abusive crazies they had to deal with on a weekly basis, you'd be asking why this didn't happen years ago, as opposed to why it happening now. Keeping expences secret? Wrong. Not wanting a knock on the door of the house your family lives in? Understandable to say the least.
As does everyone else in the public eye who has a direct impact on someone.

To make MPs exempt this legislation will mean that constituencies are represented by an MP who may not "live" in the area and has no regard for local issues and is merely using the address to trouser the Additional Cost Allowance.

Is this not a step back to the 18th century era of rotten boroughs?

Those that are deemed high risk, due to the nature of the job, are afforded police protection which negates your argument.
 
#4
Just as an aside, amendments were also voted on in Jan 2009 to the “Green Book” of MPs allowances to make parliament more accountable (Yeah, really :x ) by changing the headings for expenses from 9 headings to 26 headings.

This change is merely no more than “preparing the ground” for a further attempt at FOI exemption under the excuse that it becomes more expensive and time consuming to produce this information for public scrutiny.

This, along with the “secret addresses” is an insidious move to wholly exclude our “right honourables” from the FOI Act completely.

They are slowly taking away our ability to hold them accountable.
 
#5
They are slowly taking away our ability to hold them accountable.[/quote]



I agree completely,though my one query is,

Have we ever been truly able to hold them to account?
(the general election does not count)

We have various people in government who have been found wanting when it comes to honesty and sincerity,(Peter Mandelson-to name one but there are others).

I suppose the ultimate joke is for us to have a Prime Minister that we did not vote for.......

Accountable...they don't give a monkey's about being accountable to us mate.
 
#6
I've no problem with MP's wishing to keep their home addresses secret. They have constituency offices to meet the public, why do they need to see them at home?

Not every member of the public is sensible.

On the issue of expenses on the other hand...
 
#7
mad_mac said:
parapauk said:
As I said in another thread a while back, way back when I was in school I did some work experience in an MP's office. If you knew the number of abusive crazies they had to deal with on a weekly basis, you'd be asking why this didn't happen years ago, as opposed to why it happening now. Keeping expences secret? Wrong. Not wanting a knock on the door of the house your family lives in? Understandable to say the least.
As does everyone else in the public eye who has a direct impact on someone.

To make MPs exempt this legislation will mean that constituencies are represented by an MP who may not "live" in the area and has no regard for local issues and is merely using the address to trouser the Additional Cost Allowance.

Is this not a step back to the 18th century era of rotten boroughs?

Those that are deemed high risk, due to the nature of the job, are afforded police protection which negates your argument.
Not really as it's blatantly obvious when an MP actually lives in the constituency or not. Our MP changed at the last election and it was very noticeable that the new one actually lived here by the number of local issues he took up.

There was a move to put nurses addresses on the register a few years ago but this was stopped for the same reason that they've decided not to publish MPs addresses. Equally you won't find a list of GPs addresses anywhere or the police. Makes sense really.
 
#8
What PTP said

Constituency offices should and are the first point of contact for MP's
Home addresses, Why?

Expenses shouldn't be excluded in any way under FOI
 
#9
mad_mac said:
parapauk said:
As I said in another thread a while back, way back when I was in school I did some work experience in an MP's office. If you knew the number of abusive crazies they had to deal with on a weekly basis, you'd be asking why this didn't happen years ago, as opposed to why it happening now. Keeping expences secret? Wrong. Not wanting a knock on the door of the house your family lives in? Understandable to say the least.
As does everyone else in the public eye who has a direct impact on someone.

To make MPs exempt this legislation will mean that constituencies are represented by an MP who may not "live" in the area and has no regard for local issues and is merely using the address to trouser the Additional Cost Allowance.

Is this not a step back to the 18th century era of rotten boroughs?

Those that are deemed high risk, due to the nature of the job, are afforded police protection which negates your argument.
Everyone else in the public eye doesn't have their address publicly available, nor are they part of our governing process.

Making sure an MP lives in an area doesn't mean narrowing it down to the nearest 300 square feet. A journalist should be able to determine if MP X lives in an area without that degree of disclosure to the public.

The problem is that the first indicator you have that you are 'high-risk' may be a man with a large knife demanding you stop the voices in his head.
 
#10
There are currently 46 million people in the UK registered to vote.

The voting register has two formats:

The full version of the register is available for supervised inspection by anyone, by legal right. It is this register that is used for voting and its supply and use is limited by law. Copies of this register are available to certain groups and individuals, such as credit reference agencies and political parties.

The full register contains the following information:

voter number (two letters indicating the polling district, followed by a number)

voter's name and address

date of birth (if 18th birthday falls within a year of the register is published)

if the voter has requested a postal vote

An 'edited' version of the register, which omits those people who have chosen to 'opt-out', can be purchased by anyone for any purpose.

I personally choose to "opt out" to spare my details being flogged to all and sundry.

The process of voter registration was introduced by Representation of the People Act 1918. A fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed for failing to complete the form or giving false information.

MPs voted 235 to 176 to keep secret their constituency addresses.

I have yet to see a case where an MP or his family have been intimidated and harassed due to their inclusion on the electoral roll.

If this was the case, there is legislation already in place to deal with this problem. I give to you the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 and the Electoral Administration Act 2006 Part 2 Para 10.

Legislation

These MPs seem to have an overinflated sense of their own importance and I find the presentation of the "security angle" to blanket all MPs addresses is a particularly weak case.

The most galling aspect of this amendment was the way in which it was voted with no debate.
 
#11
I have yet to see a case where an MP or his family have been intimidated and harassed due to their inclusion on the electoral roll.
Just because you haven't seen a case does not mean it hasn't happened. I am certainly aware of at least one MP and his family receiving very unwanted and potentially dangerous attention.

Mac, you're really barking up the wrong tree with this. Should we also let Service personnel be evident on the voters roll? Coppers? Magistrates and Judges?

Sometimes, there is actually a good reason for people not to be evident on the Voters Roll.
 
#12
PartTimePongo said:
Just because you haven't seen a case does not mean it hasn't happened. I am certainly aware of at least one MP and his family receiving very unwanted and potentially dangerous attention.

Mac, you're really barking up the wrong tree with this. Should we also let Service personnel be evident on the voters roll? Coppers? Magistrates and Judges?

Sometimes, there is actually a good reason for people not to be evident on the Voters Roll.
Have not a large majority of the electorate with direct dealings with the public also been in this situation?

I agree with your statement about other professions being on the electoral roll. This is exactly my point. Major players in the criminal justice system, witnesses in high profile court cases all have their details on the electoral roll.

There is currently legislation in place to deal with a perceived threat and it can be dealt with on a case by case basis and, if necessary, information on the electoral roll is excluded.

If this is good enough for Joe Public then it should be good enough for our parliamentary representatives.

My gripe here is that MPs have insulated themselves from another part of the FOI Act, which, through different legislative amendments excludes them from public accountability and scrutiny which we the electorate, have to abide so rigorously to.

If this is "barking up the wrong tree" then woof woof.
 
#14
So MP's might be "at risk" if their addresses were made public? My heart weeps purple p1ss for them. :roll:

Of course it would be "tragic" if an MP was killed by some nutter. But that is a sacrafice I'm willing to make! :twisted:

I'd also make judge's addresses a matter of public record; lets see how many judges are willing to hand out non-jail sentances when the scumbags they put back on the streets might be breaking into THEIR houses next! :twisted:
 
#15
Werewolf said:
So MP's might be "at risk" if their addresses were made public? My heart weeps purple p1ss for them. :roll:

Of course it would be "tragic" if an MP was killed by some nutter. But that is a sacrafice I'm willing to make! :twisted:

I'd also make judge's addresses a matter of public record; lets see how many judges are willing to hand out non-jail sentances when the scumbags they put back on the streets might be breaking into THEIR houses next! :twisted:
Go to bed, you've had enough.
 
#16
parapauk said:
Werewolf said:
So MP's might be "at risk" if their addresses were made public? My heart weeps purple p1ss for them. :roll:

Of course it would be "tragic" if an MP was killed by some nutter. But that is a sacrafice I'm willing to make! :twisted:

I'd also make judge's addresses a matter of public record; lets see how many judges are willing to hand out non-jail sentances when the scumbags they put back on the streets might be breaking into THEIR houses next! :twisted:
Go to bed, you've had enough.
Good idea; reading one of your posts always makes me sleepy... :sleepy: :wink:
 
#18
PTP, I can give you an example of an MP who received unwanted and definitely dangerous attention.

Ian Gow.

For those who don't recall, he ceased to be an MP just before 0900 on 30 Jul 90 when he succumbed to the wounds caused by the IED placed under his car by the PIRA ASU which had tracked him down with relative ease (his address was in the phone book and on the electoral register to allow for easy cross-checking).
 
#20
Archimedes said:
PTP, I can give you an example of an MP who received unwanted and definitely dangerous attention.

Ian Gow.

For those who don't recall, he ceased to be an MP just before 0900 on 30 Jul 90 when he succumbed to the wounds caused by the IED placed under his car by the PIRA ASU which had tracked him down with relative ease (his address was in the phone book and on the electoral register to allow for easy cross-checking).
This is why legislation has encompassed a case by case need for anonymity.

Anonymous Registration

People can now formally apply to be placed on the electoral register as anonymous electors. They need to meet the normal legal requirements to be on the electoral register (age, nationality, residence, not disqualified). Evidence of these can be asked for.

It is available to people where, if their name or address was listed on the electoral register, they believe their safety would be at risk. It is also for others in the same household as those at risk.

It is suitable for people escaping from domestic violence or for people where their occupation would mean they must keep their identity private.

Evidence, such as a court document or attestation from a suitable person is required.

It commenced on 1 June 2007.

Anonymous registration means that the person’s name and address will not appear on the electoral register but they can still vote. Once their application has been approved they will receive a certificate of anonymous registration form from the Electoral Registration Office. They then have the choice of sending this to credit reference agencies to prove they are on the electoral register at their address (not being on the register negatively affects a person’s credit rating).

The registration only lasts for a year, so they will need to submit a fresh application annually if their circumstances remain the same. The Electoral Registration Office will send a reminder approximately 2 months before the end of the person’s first year registration. However, if their address changes in the meantime, they need to inform their Electoral Registration Office as soon as practical.

It also means they are automatically not included in the edited version of the register (this version is able to be purchased by any person for any purpose)

Access to an anonymous registered person’s details is only allowed to the following persons and organizations and they have a legal duty to ensure the information is kept securely and only used for prescribed purposes:

Returning Officer and Counting officers (for elections and referenda);

The Jury service;

The Security services, including GCHQ (Government Communications headquarters);

Police forces and the Serious Organized Crime Agency.

The application will need either a relevant court order that is in force to protect you or a qualified person to support the application
A “relevant order or injunction” must be one of the following:

an injunction for the purpose of restraining a person from pursuing any conduct which amounts to harassment granted in proceedings under section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;

an injunction granted under section 3A(2) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;

a restraining order made under section 5(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;

a restraining order on acquittal made under section 5A(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;

a non-harassment order made under section 8(5)(b)(ii) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended;

a non-harassment order made under section 234A(2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995;or

a non-molestation order made under section 42(2) of the Family Law Act 1996.

Where possible originals documents should be supplied with the application (copies are acceptable if originals are not available). Any original documents will be returned to the applicant (copies will be kept) so that if still in force, they can be re-submitted 12 months later if a renewal is sought.

The order must also be in force on the day of the application but not necessarily for the whole 12 month period of registration21. A document which will cease to have effect during the 12 month period of registration does not reduce or otherwise affect the length of registration.

A qualified person is one of the following:

The Chief Officer of Police of any police force in England and Wales

The Chief Constable of any police force in Scotland or the Police Service of Northern Ireland

The Director General of the Security Services or Serious Organised Crime Agency

A Director of Adult Social Services or Children’s Services in England, a Director of Social services in Wales or a Chief Social Work Officer in Scotland

Note: The qualified person does not have to be based in the same area as the applicant but the attestation cannot be delegated to a more junior person within their organisation.

The nationality of the person registering is important as only citizens of the UK, Republic of Ireland, a European member state or a commonwealth country (provided that have leave to enter or remain in the UK or do not require such leave) can register.

Someone living in the same household as a person who qualifies for anonymous registration also qualifies; however, they need to make a separate application also.

If a correspondence address is provided, all correspondence and poll cards, postal votes (if applicable) will be sent to that address in a plain envelope.
The legislative response should be proportionate to the risk. The blanket veil of secrecy regarding MPs addresses is disproportionate and in my view masks an ulterior motive.
 

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