Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More LibDem Hypocrisy on Freedom of Information?

Earlier today I wrote in the Comments on THIS thread that I was happy to pay tribute to LibDems MPs who voted against David Maclean FOI Bill. I had thought, that unlike the Tory and Labour Parties they were of one mind on this Bill. It turns out that my congratulations were premature. I have just read this comment on ConservativeHome from Conservative Deputy Chief Whip Andrew Robothan MP.
You might wish to see the comments of Nick Harvey, Lib Dem Defence spokesman,
close to Ming, on this FOI Amendment Bill. Look in Hansard, Public Bill
Committee proceedings for 7 Feb. Nick Harvey supported the Bill in Committee.
Ming seems unaware of this or else typical Lib Dem hypocrisy? I am delighted by
Cameron statement and opposition.

I haven't been able to track down the record of this Committee yet as I am in the middle of recording some interviews, but if anyone would like to help me out and post the relevant sections I am sure we would also be grateful for this enlightenment. Like David Maclean, Nick Harvey is a member of the House of Commons Commission, which seems to be the body behind this iniquitous Bill.

Andrew Robothan also blows out of the water any rumours of Tory front bench support for this Bill. As Deputy Chief Whip he ought to know. Good on him for going public like this.

UPDATE: Nick Harvey's speech on the FOI Bill can be found HERE. It is quite clear from his speech that he supports the Bill. In particular he is concerned about the Additional Costs Allowance.
The problem, however, is that requests under the Freedom of Information Act
are becoming increasingly intrusive, particularly on issues such as the
additional costs allowance. In that respect, they are getting into very personal
realms—they are going behind the front door and into Members’ homes. I have
found myself having to defend Members on the radio against the proposition that
the public have the right to know exactly what is spent in each bedroom of their
homes if the money is claimed under the additional costs allowance. That is too
intrusive and is going too far.

If MPs claim expenses from the taxpayer related to their homes, then pray tell me why we shouldn't know what they have claimed?

19 comments:

Iain Dale's Rabbit said...

You never said whether you were donating a days pay to the nurses Iain.

Are you?

Iain Dale said...

Are you Tim Ireland in disguise?

If you actually read the thread you refer to I did actaully post a comment on this earlier this afternoon.

I have not donated a day's pay. But unlike Premiership footballers I do not earn £20,000 a week and cannot afford to do so.

David Boothroyd said...

Freedom of Information Bill Public Bill Committee proceedings are here.

Anonymous said...

Not sure he does support the Bill Iain.

Iain Dale's Rabbit said...

I imagine a Telegraph columnist, internet TV host, publisher and paid media commentator probably earns a lot more than a nurse.

But if you can't afford it, you can't afford it.

Iain Dale said...

A fair point. I am sure I do earn more than a nurse, but then I have never been an advocate of everyone earning the same. I am not a Communist! And I probably earn far less than you think I do!
BTW - am no longer a publisher!

Anonymous said...

"It is quite clear from his speech that he supports the Bill."

So, you're interpreting then...

Iain Dale said...

Read it yourself. There is only one way you can interpret it IMHO.

James said...

Fantastic bit of investigative journalism, Iain. It's only been on Lib Dem Voice since Sunday: http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-so-just-how-strongly-did-the-lib-dems-oppose-the-freedom-of-information-amendment-bill-827.html.

So the Lib Dems are making a bit of political capital out of Cameron's misfortune, so what? I think you're shooting at the wrong target here.

Marie said...

Iain: "Andrew Robothan also blows out of the water any rumours of Tory front bench support for this Bill. As Deputy Chief Whip he ought to know."

So how come John Randall, one of Robathan's whips, is one of the Dirty Two Dozen Conservatives who voted through this outrageous bill?

Anonymous said...


If MPs claim expenses from the taxpayer related to their homes, then pray tell me why we shouldn't know what they have claimed?


Well, quite. There can be no justification for wanting to see the contents of an MP's correspondence with or on behalf of his individual constituents.

If an MP wishes to use my money to purchase a quad bike for his use, or to re-decorate his home office or whatever, then I have an absolute right to know about it. If he doesn't want me to know what he's buying, he can use his own money.

John said...

Bedroom items. Like what?

A crate of oranges and some bin bags. Harsh I know but really hacked off with this!

Anonymous said...

let's face it iain, you must be well-connected enough to know that 99 per cent of Lib Dem's views about Nick Harvey were the same bewfore this remark of his as they are now.

Btw do you not double-take every time you come across Adrian Sanders?

Letterman said...

I don't know about lib dem hypocrisy, parties do occassionally have rebels you know? They have made a bit of a half-hearted effort though - they should have got their act together sooner to oppose this more strongly.

Iain Dale said...

James, you got me there. Just shows I should read LibDem Voice more often. Having said that I now think I did read it but didn't get beyond the first sentence!

I don't blame the LibDems at all. But don't blame me in the opposite direction!

Norfolk Blogger said...

One Lib Dem MP as opposed to the nod and thew wink given by the Tory front bench who were letting it be known that they supported the FOI exemption. Hardy the same thing to copare is it ?

Kevin Davis said...

You should see the pathetic defence for not turning up to vote that Ming's Chief of Staff gae to his local paper:

"Friday is when most MPs carry out constituency work, and Mr Davey felt this put many who opposed the bill in a difficult position.
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He said: "I'm very angry at the Government's tactics. They used whips to get it through, which does not usually happen for private members bills such as this."

Mr. Davey's constituency is 14 miles away from Westminster and clearly the MP's who did turn up were not fooled, or do they not care about their constituent's?.

Barry said...

Nick Harvey told a BBC Radio Scotland political programme, shortly after that standing committee, that he did not support the Bill.

However Maclean himself let the cat out of the bag during last Friday's shameful proceedings: "The Liberal Democrat representative in Committee serves—I say again to the House, which may be sick of hearing it—on the House of Commons Commission, which is the governing body of this House. He knows what is going on and he understands the problems. He was in favour of my Bill, which was unanimously supported in Committee." (col 917).

Please sign my petition opposing the Bill: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/foiparliament/

Barry said...

Iain,

According to Campaign for Freedom of Information, Lord Trefgarne is taking up Maclean's Bill (what I call the NIMPY Bill - Not In My Palace Yard), and Lords 2nd Reading is due on 21 June.

Time therefore for you and the Tory Blogosphere to getting rolling to work on the Tory peers...