Monday, July 13, 2009

Dizzy: Answer the Bloody Question!

Newsnight's David Grossman quizzes Dizzy (aka Phil Hendren) about his FOI request about the Number Ten Downing Street gift shop. He displays an unnatural interest in oven gloves. Can't think why.

Watch the clip HERE.

23 comments:

dizzy said...

Everybody knows that oven gloves stop you from making a mess and if you use the other one it makes it feel like somebody else doing it.

Bon said...

Brilliant! Dizzy's closing command on that clip is totally right!

Maybe Dave should FOI what he askes at PMQ's now. Then the mentalist might have to 'anser the bloody question' too...

Havocman said...

Dizzy, are you suggesting that's what Gordon Brown does with his set?

Colin said...

This man is a star. he's a bloody good sys admin and karaoke singer to boot...

dizzy said...

I can dance salsa too

Swatch said...

Wow, I see Hendren goes to the same gym as Paul Staines.

raincoatoptimism said...

Funny. yes. But Dizzy, you failed to take the joke at the end, I would've gone for the oven gloves, possibly signed.

dizzy said...

Years of work those moobs.

jailhouselawyer said...

Ask them if they sell paddles?

BROWN OUT said...

Jeez what a self-important prat.

canvas said...

that was the nerdiest video ever.

:))

Anonymous said...

Jesus wept.

This is the reason why frivolous FOI requests are wasting so much public money - people wanting to ask questions "because they can".

And at the same time as diverting public resources to answer these pointless questions, moaning about inefficies in Government.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-03-16c.258622.h&s=date%3A20090316+column%3A942+section%3Awrans

Written answers and statements, 16 March 2009

Francis Maude (Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office; Horsham, Conservative)

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 13 January 2009, Official Report, columns 581-2W, on 10 Downing Street, if he will place in the Library a copy of the list of the retail prices for each item of merchandise.

Kevin Brennan (Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office; Cardiff West, Labour)

The merchandise products listed are unsubsidised and are available for staff to purchase on a not-for-profit basis. Current prices range from £0.40 for a card to £49.44 for the No. 10 door model.

Anonymous said...

I've tracked down a previous answer that states a list of gifts available was made available in the House of Commons library in January 2009.

What a waste of money this FOI request was.

Why not FOI more things that are already in the public domain?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090113/text/90113w0009.htm

Duchy of Lancaster: 10 Downing Street
Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster with reference to the answer from the Prime Minister of 10 November 2008, Official Report, column 821W, on 10 Downing Street, for what reason
the Cabinet Office has declined to place in the Library a list of the merchandise available in the Downing Street gift shop.
Kevin Brennan: A list of gifts is publicly available and has been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether prices in the Downing Street gift shop have been reduced to reflect the reduction in value added tax to 15 per cent.

Kevin Brennan: Merchandise prices reflect the VAT rate charged by suppliers at the time of purchase. These gifts are unsubsidised and sold on a not-for-profit basis.

David MacLean's Blog said...

++Nerd Alert. Cannot compute geekiness++

Good video, though. It's a matter of principle and I'm glad to see Dizzy's almost got to the bottom of it.

The price of these gift shop items will have gone through the roof in the political nerdsphere after this publicity.

dizzy said...

Anon said, "Why not FOI more things that are already in the public domain? "

===

Why not pay attention and learn to use a calendar. My FoIs were in 2008, the video even shows it. The response in January, where the documents were placed in the Library happened because my request had made it public.

So, you;ve tracked down question and response after my FoI. I belive the phrase "pwned" applies now.

verity's lovechild said...

I believe the phrase "pwned" applies now.

Phrases contain more than one word. PWNED!

I do find it slightly alarming that political bloggers all seem to be complete pies... Staines, Hendren, Blaney. Perhaps Iain could prepare a Top 20 Blogging Lard-Arses.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for not catching the few seconds in the video which displays the November 2008 date in the screenshot of your blog. I caught it on a second watch - just.

This is the only reference to the date in the entire blogpost and video, which both imply that this is "news" so probably recent. You have to be quick to catch it.

Forgive me if the story "Man asks question under FOI and gets answer in 6 weeks" about a mundane subject that does not involve the spending of taxpayers money is slightly underwhelming. Especially as the story is 6 months old.

Great use of taxpayers money finding that out. Especially as the original answer made clear that it was unsubsidised and so probably not even covered under FOI legislation.

Anonymous said...

What a pathetic waste of taxpayers money making stupid FoI requests like this. Youve actually cost the taxpayer money because some poor person had to be paid to answer a stupid FoI question like this. You should be ashamed Dizzy!

dizzy said...

Taxpayer money you say? Is that the same taxpayer that is formed from my income tax, my NI, my spending on petrol? Let's get something in perspective here, this FoI will have been dealt with by some administrative grunt on £25K, that's £12 per hour on the assumption of a 40 hour week.

The response, when typed up, is a standard template that is used for all FoI's. The person typing it then cut and pastes the questions asked. The list in this case consisted of some 20 or so products. At a slow typing speed of say 30 words per minute, the list would have taken less than a minute to type. Let's be generous and say it took five minutes to do.

Finding out the information, how long do we think that took the grunt? Well, it's a shop, one would expect it has a stock list of some sort. As of yet we don;t know if it is actually a phsyical place one can go to with a till or sinply a kind of catalogue on an intranet.

If it is the latter then finding out the products would take what? Another five minutes? If it is the former we're talking about either an email and a response from someone in the shop pinging over a list out of a stock list, or the grunt walking down there and looking. Total time for this? Let's be generous and say 20 minutes.

COnclusion, it cost about a tenner in man hours to answer the request. A cost that is more than covered by my tax contribution, and, given that I claim no benefits (and never have); do not use the NHS; deliberately have my dental done privately so as to free up a place for someone wanting NHS subsidsy; I'd say that I've got bugger all to be ashamed.

Whilst we're on the subject of subsidy, the original non-answer in Parliament on this subject said that it was a a gift shop offering staff unsubsidised gifts. That means they're paying a market rate for them, not that the shop is not covered by FoI. In fact, of it wasn't covered they would have said so, that is how FoI works.

There is a wider point here about executive scruiny though. If you have a look throug Hansard the Government regularly fails to answer simple questions. Sometimes they even refer to previous answers which are for completely different questions, as is the case withthe Gift Shop.

That is wrong. They are supposed to be accountable and if they don't answer questions in Parliament then the only other route is FoI, and sometimes, even that doesn't work. As I made clear in the film, the subject is trivial, but it wouldn't be happening if they had just answered a question they ought to be able to in a matter of minutes, in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed the tendency among Tory bloggers (Dale, Dizzy, Guido and I daresay others) to put on weight. Must be all those lunches with Eric Pickles.

canvas said...

to anon at 12:52: "Has anyone noticed the tendency among Tory bloggers (Dale, Dizzy, Guido and I daresay others) to put on weight."

I know what you mean! Is it a complacent, comfy Tory thing?!!

Even DC has the tendency to plump up. Look at Ed Vaizey... Handsome Ed turned into a bloater...

Who ate all the pies?! Tory HQ? :))

canvas said...

Dizzy, dude, your argument above sounds like a bogus one. You need fight a better battle than the freakin gift shop...

waste of time and waste of money me thinks...

dizzy said...

canvas, the way I see it, its a waste of my money. Think about it like this, yes, it's totally trivial. Yes, it ain;t gonna change the world. However, if someone is going to avoid answering something so benign then what about their "answers" to the big question?