MPs to exempt themseves from FOI Act

Having read the response from your MP it is striking that he refers to several cases being reported by his colleagues of the names of constituents being released under the FOI.

Notice how easy it is to make unsubstantiated assertions based upon 'evidence' which is sensitive and cannot be disclosed. The effect, if accepted, is to confer legitimacy upon fantasy.

Note that no victim of the alleged disclosure has been found or has come forward to give an account to the media, or whether such disclosure, if it any has in fact been made at all, has been the subject of a complaint to the police or is the subject of an ongoing or concluded internal disciplinary inquiry or result.

Sufficiently vague an assertion as to be unverifiable.

A bit evidentially threadbare don't you think?

New Labour have 'form' and 'previous' in this area. It was called 'evidence from sources which cannot be revealed of weapons of mass destruction which may threaten this country that may be deployed in 40 minutes - trust us"

We did, and two countries are now paying the price of the trust it reposed in 'honourable members'.

Even if such disclosure had occurred as your MP suggests, then such disclosure has been made in breach of the law. There is nothing wrong with the existing law. As one MP put it during the course of the debate on the issue: "murder is against the law, if one person murders another, we do not enact further legislation to make murder illegal."

Moreover, he points to the assurance of the Speaker of the House that information relating to expenses will be disclosed by the Speaker upon request in the future. Even if that is an assertion that is meant, it is likely to be in very general form an nothing like the individual form that was the subject of the breakdown for the 1996 figures disclosed in my post above.

Such assurances are as worthless as that of the insurance salesman who assures a prospective client that an exclusion clause contained within a contract of insurance that the client questions before he signs the policy would not be prayed in aid of to defeat a claim under it made by the client - unless, of course he actually comes to claim under it after having signed the policy!

The letter itself is formulaic in the sense that it reflects accurately the responses given by MPs during the debate and in the media following it.

Regards and best wishes

Iolis
 
It seems that Maclean is prepared to at least have the MPs expenses and allowances published in order to keep his bill on track.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foi/story/0,,2086420,00.html

The Tory MP seeking to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act today moved to change his private member's bill in an attempt to save it from defeat in the House of Lords.
Former chief whip David Maclean said he had put down an amendment guaranteeing that details of MPs' expenses and allowances would continue to be published.

His move follows a warning from the Tory leader, David Cameron, that the Conservatives would vote against the measure in its current form when it came to the upper chamber.
Mr Maclean said that his amendment would introduce a statutory requirement for the expenses to be published each year.
Apparently there must be a peer to sponsor the bill through the HoL and unless he gets one then the bill dies. Will there be a peer shameless enough to push this?
 
It is not hard to imagine that Mr Maclean's constituency office will, by now, have received a considerable amount of 'hate' mail. The politically astute amongst backbenchers will have seen which way the wind is blowing, sensed the public mood of hostility and will be seeking to place as much distance as possible between themselves and him as their own highly developed personal political survival instincts kick in !

Maclean will be feeling pretty isolated politically by now and will no doubt attempt to salvage as much as he can since I am pretty sure that he knows that his bill, is going to be savaged in the genteel yet devastating language for which the Lords are famous!

Whatever the outcome, Maclean remains a paradigm example of all that is loathsome in MPs regardless of which party they purport to serve!
 
At last, someone on the Treasury benches seems to have broken cover at the Government's position on this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6689031.stm

Minister Alistair Darling wants tighter restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC has learned.
The Trade Secretary is concerned that it does not sufficiently protect advice from officials to ministers.
While this is not directly linked to the Maclean PMB, it does perhaps give some reason as to the 'neutrality' that has been allowed thus far. I wonder if Broon will change his mind about the FoI act and the views that have been attributed to him.

Gordon Brown is poised to kill off moves by the Lord Chancellor to water down the Freedom of Information Act, it became clear last night.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/23/nbrown23.xml

After the recent mauling he had about the predicted effects of his raid on pension funds (officials to ministers and revealed via a FoI inquiry - what a coincidence!) I can't believe that he wants the act to remain how it is. I see a man trying to do his well renowned 'macavity' impression but hoping like hell that Darling (a close friend and tipped for the chancellor job) can push this without it reflecting on his new boss.
 
The Information Commissioner has also put in his two pennorth for what it's worth.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article2581227.ece

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, said he had not received any complaints from members of the public that their correspondence with an MP had been wrongly disclosed under the terms of the two-year-old legislation.
Today's legal comment in the Indie also suggests that this is a smokescreen to protect ministerial advice rather than an expenses and allowances issue.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article2581186.ece

Yes, they believe that it is wrong to try to protect MPs from having to publish details of their expenses but they don't say what they think of the general principle of an over-riding exemption for MPs in relation to other information.

For example, does Gordon Brown believe it is right that we shouldn't know what a Labour MP has written to a regional authority or NHS trust about a campaign to stop the closure of a local hospital? Is it really too cynical to suggest that the MP might not want to reveal publicly the kind of arguments he or she is prepared to use to keep a hospital open, or ensure that an waste incinerator is not built where their constituents live? If both projects are part of government policy, the information disclosed might be politically embarrassing.
 
I am most grateful to you radioactiveman for the links you have provided in your two posts (supra). I have read them with interest in view of Clause 1(3) of the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill which provides:

"(3) After section 34 [of the 2002 Act] insert:

"34A Communications with members of the House of Commons

(1), Information is exempt information if it is held only by virtue of being
contained in any communication between a member of the House of
Commons, acting in his capacity as such, and a public authority."

(my emphasis)

Many thanks to you.
 
Latest revelation about another scumbag MP.

This one is a London MP who pays his son £981 a month to be his parliamentary assistant even though the son is a full-time university student in Newcastle.

A SENIOR Tory MP is paying his son to act as his parliamentary assistant even though he is still a full-time undergraduate at university.

Commons records reveal that Frederick Conway was paid at the rate of £981 a month from the parliamentary staffing allowance handed to his father Derek, a former government whip.

Derek Conway’s wife, Colette, is also on the payroll and is paid £3,271 a month as another of his registered parliamentary assistants, according to the returns for November last year.

Conway, who ran the leadership campaign of David Davis, the shadow home secretary, is the latest MP to stand accused of exploiting the expenses awarded to parliamentarians.

Frederick Conway’s personal website reveals he is a geography student at Newcastle university set to graduate this summer.

As a registered parliamentary assistant he has a Commons pass and last summer held his 21st birthday party on the House of Commons terrace overlooking the Thames, attended by his parents and friends.

He has also played for the parliamentary rugby team.

Photographs of the events appear on his Facebook website. It is not known how long he has worked for his father or in what capacity, although parliamentary records show he had a Commons pass in 2005.

Derek Conway, 54, is one of the most senior Tory backbench-ers. He was first elected to parliament in 1983 and served as a junior minister before becoming a whip under John Major’s premiership. He is regarded as a parliamentary bruiser and has criticised the conduct of Labour cabinet ministers, including John Prescott. He sits on the all-party Commons administration committee that oversees the operation of the parliamentary estate.

Conway, now MP for Old Bex-ley and Sidcup in southeast London, has previously attracted criticism over his expenses. In 2005-6, he claimed £4,072 for car mileage, which can be claimed for journeys between home, Westminster and the constituency, and for travel up to 20 miles outside of an MP’s seat on local business. Conway’s claim would equate to about 1,000 trips between Westminster and his constituency.

He also claims the full allowance for the costs of running a second home for those who need a constituency and a central London base.

Yesterday, when asked about his son’s employment, he initially denied a professional relationship. However, when confronted with details of the payments he said: “It’s not something that I am going to be drawn into talking about . . . I’m not talking about individuals and you must print what you want to print. I am not going to comment.” Although the question was put to him six times, he declined to respond further.
MP hires son on expenses

It's no wonder they've voted to keep stuff like this secret.
 
A classic example of how to win friends and votes and influence people. Remember these are the 'low-lives' who send soldiers into battle. Makes you proud to be British.
 
MPs voted in March of this year to increase their allowances by a further £10,000 per year in the form of a 'communication allowance'.

They probably need to it respond to charges of 'hypocracy' levelled at them by the much criticised Robert Mugabe.
 

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