Friday, May 18, 2007

You Either Believe in Freedom of Information Or You Don't

Today's Commons vote to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act is a classic stitch-up by the House of Commons Commission, a little-known junta of old schemers who run Westminster. If I tell you that the Commission is chaired by the Speaker, Michael Martin, it maybe tells you all you need to know.

Martin, widely acknowledged as one of the worst Speakers ever, is being fingered as the person responsible for today's disgraceful vote. The Private Member's Bill by Tory MP David Maclean was certainly given surprising support by the two deputy Speakers who chaired today's debate, Sylvia Heal and Sir Michael Lord. They twice allowed "closure" votes which prevented opponents of the Bill from trying to talk it out. I am told you have to go back to the early 1980s to find the last time two closure votes were allowed on a Friday in the Commons.

Bear in mind the following:

1. The House of Commons Commission runs MPs' expenses. It has had a long battle with Freedom on Information campaigners and the FOI watchdog over releasing details of those expenses.
2. The Labour and Tory frontbenches tacitly supported Maclean's Bill. Whips like to keep the details of MPs' expenses a private matter - between themselves and the MPs. It gives the Whips some power over MPs, you see. That way they can 'persuade' them into voting for the party line.
3. David Maclean is a member of the House of Commons Commission.
4. The media often use FOI but the Speaker hates the press, which has nicknamed him "Gorbals Mick".

The LibDem MP Norman Baker was so angry after today's debates that he is going around accusing the Chair of undermining the neutrality of the Speakership. This is more than just sour grapes on Baker's behalf. It is an extremely rare thing for an MP to be so critical of the Chair and I think he is on to a serious and dangerous point.

Could this be the decision which forces Michael Martin into welcome retirement? Let's hope so. He has now done serious damage to the standing of Parliament, and the to public's right to know what their MPs are up to and how they are using - or in a few cases, abusing - public funds.

I have just looked at the voting lists - the Bill went through by 113 to 23. Of the 113 MPs who voted for it only 21 were Tories. An astonishing number of government ministers voted in favour, and who should I also spy in the AYE column, but none other than that champion of freedom of information, blogging Labour MP Tom Watson. No mention on his blog of course, but that's hardly a surprise.

And for the avoidance of doubt, had I had a vote on this Bill, I would have joined John Redwood, Richard Shepherd, Philip Hollobone and James Clappison, who were the only four Tory MPs to vote in the No lobby. (apols for missing Richard Shepherd and Philip Hollobone out in the original post).

UPDATE: These are the MPs who voted in favour of the Bill...

Ainsworth, rh Mr. BobAllen, Mr. GrahamAnderson, JanetAtkinson, Mr. PeterBailey, Mr. AdrianBalls, EdBarker, GregoryBell, Sir StuartBetts, Mr. CliveBlackman, LizBrown, rh Mr. NicholasBurgon, ColinBurns, Mr. SimonButterfill, Sir JohnCairns, DavidCampbell, Mr. AlanCampbell, Mr. RonnieCawsey, Mr. IanChope, Mr. ChristopherClark, PaulClelland, Mr. DavidCoaker, Mr. VernonDavid, Mr. WayneDhanda, Mr. ParmjitDjanogly, Mr. JonathanDonohoe, Mr. Brian H.Doran, Mr. FrankDowd, JimDuddridge, JamesDunne, Mr. PhilipEagle, AngelaEagle, MariaEllwood, Mr. TobiasFabricant, MichaelFitzpatrick, JimFlint, CarolineFollett, BarbaraFoster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)Francois, Mr. MarkGardiner, BarryGodsiff, Mr. RogerHall, Mr. MikeHammond, StephenHarris, Mr. TomHenderson, Mr. DougHeppell, Mr. JohnHill, rh KeithHollobone, Mr. PhilipHurd, Mr. NickIrranca-Davies, HuwJones, Mr. KevanJones, Mr. MartynKemp, Mr. FraserKirkbride, Miss JulieKnight, rh Mr. GregLammy, Mr. DavidLaxton, Mr. BobLevitt, TomLewis, Mr. IvanLloyd, TonyMaclean, rh DavidMacShane, rh Mr. DenisMahmood, Mr. KhalidMaples, Mr. JohnMarshall, Mr. DavidMcAvoy, rh Mr. ThomasMcCabe, SteveMcCartney, rh Mr. IanMcFall, rh JohnMcGovern, Mr. JimMcIsaac, ShonaMcNulty, Mr. TonyMerron, GillianMichael, rh AlunMorley, rh Mr. ElliotMudie, Mr. GeorgeMunn, MegMurphy, Mr. DenisNeill, RobertNorris, DanO'Brien, Mr. MikePound, StephenPrentice, BridgetPritchard, MarkPurchase, Mr. KenRandall, Mr. JohnRobertson, JohnRoy, Mr. FrankRuffley, Mr. DavidRyan, JoanSalter, MartinShaw, JonathanSheridan, JimSimon, Mr. SiônSmith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)Smith, rh JacquiSnelgrove, AnneSpellar, rh Mr. JohnStewart, IanSutcliffe, Mr. GerryTami, MarkTaylor, Ms DariThomas, Mr. GarethTredinnick, DavidTwigg, DerekVara, Mr. ShaileshWard, ClaireWatson, Mr. TomWatts, Mr. DaveWicks, MalcolmWinterton, AnnWinterton, Sir NicholasWright, DavidTellers for the Ayes:Mr. Tim Boswell andMr. Andrew Dismore

And these are the ones who voted against...

Baker, NormanBurstow, Mr. PaulCable, Dr. VincentClappison, Mr. JamesCorbyn, JeremyCousins, JimFarron, TimFisher, MarkGoldsworthy, JuliaHarris, Dr. EvanHeath, Mr. DavidHowarth, DavidHughes, SimonJackson, GlendaLinton, MartinMactaggart, FionaÖpik, LembitRedwood, rh Mr. JohnReid, Mr. AlanSanders, Mr. AdrianSheerman, Mr. BarryShepherd, Mr. RichardSoulsby, Sir PeterSwinson, JoWilliams, HywelWilliams, StephenWinnick, Mr. DavidTellers for the Noes:Lorely Burt andMr. Roger Williams


Anonymous said...

What a bloody joke. Brown's spokesman said he won't oppose it, he won't dictate to MPs to oppose it. He's "open" she said. He's as open as a closed door. Click on my name for more of my rant...

Anonymous said...

Iain, you say:

Of the 113 MPs who voted for it only 21 were Tories. ... I would have joined John Redwood and James Clappison, who were the only two Tory MPs to vote in the No lobby.

Sorry, I'm not sure how this works. So if only 2 Tories voted No, and 21 voted Aye, where were the other Tories? Cold they not be bothered to turn up to vote? And if so, why not? Did they not think this important enough to turn up for?

Anonymous said...

It does seem like a stich-up, yet if Maclean had appeared on Today this morning (he refused) he could have given a reasonable explanation for the Bill. It has been terribly presented throughout, with little attempt to tell us electors why it is needed, yet is it really that unreasonable to give constituents' correspondence with MPs' the same treatment as their communications with their doctors?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Gorbals Mick is well past his sell-by date. When he was last off sick his stand-in did a far better job, and there was hope that Mick might call it a day. Some hope...

Anonymous said...

Fooking Tories

Ned said...

Those that voted for the change in Legislation Are a Grubby crowd ..not fit to be MPs.

And just why didn't more Tories turn up? when they were aware of the consequences.

Liberal Republican said...

Anonymous said...

Well it's nice to see the conservatives believing in FOI and to help us by putting in a nice amendment so the bloodsuckers can't be seen to be doing there jobs ,well I voted the other week the first time since Thatcher screwed us over,yes conservative , I think I now go back and watch the telly ,I would love to see a list of the pigs in the trough who voted for it or is that secret in this supposed democracy (now that's a joke),come on iain names if you can please.

The Sage of Muswell Hill said...


"It does seem like a stich-up, yet if Maclean had appeared on Today this morning (he refused) he could have given a reasonable explanation for the Bill."

The reason he didn't come on "Today" is because there is no reasonable explanation. Keeping constituents' correspondence confidential is dealt with under the Data Protection Act or - if there is a loophole in that act allowing FoI access - the DPA can be amended. This exemption is to protect the scum that rule us - particularly, as it turns out, Labour scum. But don't let's forget which MP sponsored the bill. Also don't let's forget who didn't turn up to vote against this measure - they're just as culpable.

BTW Iain, can we expect the leader of the Conservative Party to instruct his members in the Lords to vote this bill down? And if not, why not, since the spurious "constituents' interests" defence doesn't really apply there does it?

Anonymous said...

So where is the list of the Tories who did vote for it? Perhaps their constituencies would have something to say to them?

Anonymous said...

Well I have just left a comment on ZaNuLabor Tom Watson's blog.
They should name a rubbish tip in his honour!

Anonymous said...

Shameful. I find myself with the LibDems.

Sounds as if someone should spend some time digging in those lists at the weekend.


Dusanne said...

Having watched the whole debate (or debates technically I guess) I think there other distasteful aspects beyond the procedural shenanigans.

Firstly the third reading debate, literally nobody, other then Maclean who I guess had to say something, was prepared to put their head above the parapet and speak in favour of the bill, and answer properly the many charges made against it.

Then there was the Prentice performance on the report stage which stretched the governments claim 'neutrality' on the bill beyond breaking point.

Finally, well not finally, but because otherwise I could rant for hours, there was the heart of the Maclean argument. No rebuttal of the many claims against the bill (DPA does it already, if it’s good for MPs why not in local government, image of parliament), but many repetitions of the 'the committee were unanimous'. Yes, I know its perfectly allowable for a private members' bull, but the results of an hour's deliberation by a hand picked set of yes-men is hardly a killing blow in favour of the bill.

I've argued elsewhere that the practical effects of the change are actually limited in terms of privacy and disclosure, probably none existant. The only real outcome is unnecessary damage to the image of parliament and MPs.

Looks like it’s down to the Lords to save us from our elected representatives again.

Anonymous said...

It's worse, Iain. If you read the record, the occupant of the Chair granted three closure motions. Only two of which were actually voted on... the first and the last.

The second one, at 11:30am, was unopposed (for some bizarre reason, a division was called, yet the Noes were unable to provider tellers it)

By the way, you missed out Richard Shepherd from your list of honourable mentions to Tory MPs. In fact, his speeches and interventions throughout were excellent.

Anonymous said...

I don't have access to the voting lists yet, but surely the Tory MP, Richard Shepherd (Aldridge - Brownhills) voted against. I watched the debate with increasing anger. However, one highlight in favour of FoI was Mr Sheperds speech, it was inspiring. By the way, I am a long standing Labour Party member and Trade Union activist, and I hang my head in shame today.

Anonymous said...

Real swine, all of them. Come on the Cross Benchers in the Lords. The last line of defence against the anti-democratic forces controlling the Commons.

What will Cameron do - this is a genuine test of leadership. I watch with interest.

ThunderDragon said...

It is truly disgraceful that they should vote in this way. Those who make the law must be subject to it as well.

Anonymous said...

I almost forgot - spread the word!

Anonymous said...

This is yet another bloody disgrace from the pigs with their snouts in the gravy train.

Does anyone heve the list of all those MP's who voted for this disgraceful bill?

Anonymous said...

Iain since Parliament was covered by the F o I and now has exempted itself by using an Act of Parliament, I wonder if that inhibits the human rights of the Citizen.

It is not as if it originally exempted itself - it is amending an Act. In France I suppose the Conseil d'Etat could strike down the amendment if it were so moved; here it is hard to see the High Court wading into political issues....but i wonder if the ECHR could be involved on the basis of Citizens' right to open government ?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm not sure how this works. So if only 2 Tories voted No, and 21 voted Aye, where were the other Tories? Cold they not be bothered to turn up to vote? And if so, why not? Did they not think this important enough to turn up for?


Anonymous said...

What a great democracy we live in. What, precisely is the point of MPs? To represent their constituents or themselves?

Anonymous said...

This is utterly disgraceful. At a time when politicians are rated by the public way way below other jobs (double-glazing salesmen? fine fellows, at least they're not politicians) to do something so obviously self-serving is appalling.

Where were the rest of the Tories then? Forgotten they're in Opposition have they? Likely to stay there if they don't get a grip sharpish too.

In general, the public regard MPs as greedy, corrupt, selfish, snouts-in-the-trough types - and this afternoon shows how right they are.

(No offence Iain, I know all MPs aren't actually like that - but where were they this afternoon when they could have proved it?)

jailhouselawyer said...

"You Either Believe in Freedom of Information Or You Don't". Indeed, Iain, indeed.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to big up Richard Shepherd who, as with the Lords reform debates, gave one of the best speeches of the day. He did the Tories proud, which is more than I can say about most of the shower.

Anonymous said...

I watched most of the debate on the live TV feed. The weak arguments put forward for MPs to avoid the FOI were soon shot down by opposing speakers. If information is incorrectly released by public bodies this can be addressed by the current law and/or the Data Protection Act. I take my hat off to those MPs who opposed this measure with logic, passion and barely supressed anger. It was obvious from comments that junior ministers on the Labour side had been drafted in to push this through. A disgrace. Des.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your explanation. I take it all back. If constituent-MP communication can be privileged in some other way, any other protection seems unnecessary, and the way this has been pushed through is hardly a model of accountability. If Brown has any sense he will force an explanation and promise a review if the Lords (hopefully)defeats the Bill.

Anon 5.08

The Huntsman said...

This shameful and disgraceful Bill can only damage the reputation of Parliament and of the political class who are effectively saying they should be above the law which applies to the rest of us. At a time when Politicians are perhaps held in less regard than estate agents or second-hand car salesmen, they have the effrontery to tell the public who pay their salaries and expenses that they are determined to make themselves unaccountable.

Get writing to a sympathetic Peer.

Anonymous said...

Norman Baker is one of the few honourable MPs left but he has an army of spivs up against him.

That slimeball Martin Salter is on Channel 4 pathetically and dishonestly trying to defend this indefensible vote.

If I find my MP has voted for this amendment I will bloody well give him right down the banks over this.

Anyone have a list of the names yet?

Anonymous said...

The Tory Party couldn't even be arsed to get someone on Channel 4 news tonight to discuss this.

Simon Hughes did a good job of opposing it but where were the MAIN OPPOSITION for God's Sake.

Have they given up opposing or do they just not work Fridays?

Get your finger out Cameron!

Anonymous said...

Six weeks to go before he becomes Prime Minister entirely by default, with no democratic mandate whatsoever, and Brown has expressly defended the right of MPs to exempt themselves from the law. What was all that about restoring the public's trust in politicians? Didn't last very long did it?

Anonymous said...

good show from the LibDems!

Guthrum said...

Utterly self serving and a bloody disgrace, Cameron has some explaining to do- Grammar schools going west, now this tacit support for a squalid bill. No wonder turnouts continue to fall. Norman Baker appears to be the only MP with any sense of civic probity

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

If Gorbals Mick is off - wishfull thinking I'm afraid - I know another Labour politician who is just leaving his current job...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to sack all of the greedy, slimey, self serving fat cats with their snouts sunk so deep in the public purse that they voted for this corrupt evasion of democratic accountablity.

This is the sort of corruption I expect in a Communist regime, not a democratic state.

So much for Cameron's claim that he'd restore greater accountability and democracy then. He's Blair's heir alright, no doubt about that.

A hung parliament is beginning to look attractive again...

Auntie Flo'

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list Iain ,why you had to put RH next to some of the names that voted yes ,I don't know but non of them are right or honorable.

PS to MPs that voted yes ,we will remember ,Mp's who were against thank you, those that didn't bother ,we pay your wages which includes Friday.

Iain Dale said...

I didnt put the RH things on thelist. I copied it and pasted it from Hansard

Anonymous said...

Could be some interesting questions for these Conservative MPs

Peter Atkinson (Hexham)
Simon Burns (Chelmsford West)
Sir John Butterfill (Bournemouth West)
James Duddridge (Rochford & Southend East)
Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East)
Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove)
Greg Knight (Yorkshire East)
Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East)
David Maclean (Penrith & The Border)
Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst)
Andrew Pelling (Croydon Central)
Mark Pritchard (Wrekin)
John Randall (Uxbridge)
David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone & The Weald)
Lady Ann Winterton (Congleton)
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

Tellers for the Ayes were Tory Tim Boswell (Daventry) and Labour's Andrew Dismore (Hendon).

Croydonian said...

Am loving the formatting of the names, suggesting some rather bizarre political gene splicing:

Lembit Redwood and Glenda Linton for instance.

Childish I know.

Anonymous said...

Bournemouth East AND West? What have the Tories got to hide there?

Can anyone list from those ne'er do wells which are currently on the government payroll? A lot of MPs including my own rarely stay in London on a Friday as they have a busy constituency diary. that vote would never have got through without an unholy alliance of:

(a) the Squeaker of the House of Commons
(b) the Labour Government
(c) Tory back-benchers with a 'nod' from David Cameron.

Anonymous said...

Good for Jim Cousins.

Of course not a lot of people know he used to be a Card-carrying Liberal!

Anonymous said...

Could somebody enlighten me about tellers please. My MP was a teller for the ayes according to a list above. Does that mean he voted for the bill?

Anonymous said...

So we get ID cards and they get an exemption form the FOI.

There's a rude word for that.

I suspect the ones who didn't vote supported the idea as well.

Anonymous said...

If this goes to the Lords now, does that only delay it, or is it possible for them to kill it off?

I've been fulminating about this ever since it got through the first two stages at which a single dissenting voice could have sent it to the early grave it so richly deserves.

Anonymous said...

Have any of this lot got their Snouts in the Trough?

via BBC Politics pages.

Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East)
Graham Allen (Nottingham North)
Janet Anderson (Rossendale & Darwen)
Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West)
Sir Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough)
Clive Betts (Sheffield Attercliffe)
Liz Blackman (Erewash)
Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East & Wallsend)
Colin Burgon (Elmet)
David Cairns (Inverclyde)
Alan Campbell (Tynemouth)
Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley)
David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)
Harry Cohen (Leyton & Wanstead)
Wayne David (Caerphilly)
Parmjit Dhanda (Gloucester)
Brian Donohoe (Ayrshire Central)
Frank Doran (Aberdeen North)
Jim Dowd (Lewisham West)
Angela Eagle (Wallasey)
Maria Eagle (Liverpool Garston)
Clive Efford (Eltham)
Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar & Canning Town)
Caroline Flint (Don Valley)
Michael Foster (Worcester)
Mike Hall (Weaver Vale)
Tom Harris (Glasgow South)
Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne North)
John Heppell (Nottingham East)
Keith Hill (Streatham)
Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore)
Kevan Jones (Durham North)
Martyn Jones (Clwyd South)
Fraser Kemp (Houghton & Washington East)
David Lammy (Tottenham)
Bob Laxton (Derby North)
Tom Levitt (High Peak)
Ivan Lewis (Bury South)
Tony Lloyd (Manchester Central)
Tommy McAvoy (Rutherglen & Hamilton West)
Stephen McCabe (Birmingham Hall Green)
Ian McCartney (Makerfield)
John McFall (Dunbartonshire West)
Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes)
Tony McNulty (Harrow East)
Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham Perry Barr)
David Marshall (Glasgow East)
Gillian Merron (Lincoln)
Alun Michael (Cardiff South & Penarth)
Laura Moffatt (Crawley)
Elliot Morley (Scunthorpe)
George Mudie (Leeds East)
Meg Munn (Sheffield Heeley)
Denis Murphy (Wansbeck)
James Plaskitt (Warwick & Leamington)
Stephen Pound (Ealing North)
Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton North East)
John Robertson (Glasgow North West)
Frank Roy (Motherwell & Wishaw)
Joan Ryan (Enfield North)
Martin Salter (Reading West)
Jonathan Shaw (Chatham & Aylesford)
Jimmy Sheridan (Paisley & Renfrewshire North)
Sion Simon (Birmingham Erdington)
Angela C Smith (Sheffield Hillsborough)
Anne Snelgrove (Swindon South)
John Spellar (Warley)
Ian Stewart (Eccles)
Mark Tami (Alyn & Deeside)
Dari Taylor (Stockton South)
Gareth Thomas (Harrow West)
Dr Desmond Turner (Brighton Kemptown)
Claire Ward (Watford)
Tom Watson (West Bromwich East)
Dave Watts (St Helens North)
Malcolm Wicks (Croydon North)
Phil Woolas (Oldham East & Saddleworth)
David Wright (Telford)

Tellers for the Ayes were Tory Tim Boswell (Daventry) and Labour's Andrew Dismore (Hendon).

Anonymous said...

If I were the press, I start investigating every single one who voted for this stinking bill - it is a disgrace and one wonders what those who voted for it have to hide. The first thing I would do is find out which MPs employ a relative, then I would find out who is using public money i.e. House of Commons stationery to answer their fan mail for the non-politcal books they write, then I'd get started on the ones who you don't see for dust from Thursday afternoon on but somehow made it in to vote today.

As for the MPs who didn't come in many have long standing constituency engagements and surgeries that can't be changed but I suspect that many of them were totally unprepared for the utter perfidy of their fellow MPs. A disgrace, pure and simple.

Tony said...

I am not given to outbursts where I revert to using what some may consider to be bad language.

But on this occasion those bastards who engineered this vote, along with the selfish chimps who voted for this immoral attempt to avoid rightful scrutiny by the public deserve to be called every damned name under the sun.

Hopefully the Lords will do the right thing and throw it back. God only knows how bullshit like today's Bill will be held to account once the Lords has finally been neutered.

Anonymous said...

Yet another nail in the coffin of democracy and freedom! I suppose the young Cameron supported this measure as he didn't rein in the bastard who proposed this.

Is it worth even bothering to let Cameron know how we feel by contacting him on the Conservative website or Webcameron? Not only has he been missing open goals, he's scoring own goals too!

Anyone fancy putting up another petition on the #10 website demanding that all MPs are taken out into Parliament Square and shot? Except for the (literally) couple of decent ones like Norman Baker. It would seem that sleaze is not just the preserve of NuLabia...word verification = basrfzz!

Anonymous said...

Typical! Martin 'potty mouth' Salter votes in the Aye lobby. A rediculous waste of space and self publicist.

Iain, please keep up your criticism of this odious Bill. The stench of corruption surrounds its passage thru Parliament. Let's hope the Lords bounce it.

I think Mr Speaker needs to go along with Blair and Prescott.

Unknown said...

Can you imagine the US Congress getting away with such an outrage? I don't think a US politician would dare to open his/her mouth with such a suggestion - but with this lot anything that makes their lives more comfortable, at our expense, goes through.

Anonymous said...

Parliament has sunk to a degrading new low today though I suspect that matters will become even worse under our new control-freak Prime Minister.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest (and this does not excuse it) that the reason many Conservative MPs found urgent and pressing business in their constituencies rather than vote against the Bill was that it was proposed by a former Tory Chief Whip.

Unfortunately, the 'gentlemen's Club' ethic kicks in at the wrong moments in the HoC - "can't vote against one of own, dear boy, so we just won't turn up".

Cameron should have stamped on this at the outset.

Anonymous said...

Scum voting to protrect SCUM.

Anonymous said...

Well Iain, I hope you'll give Dame Ann Widdecombe a good slap when next you host her (ahem) theatrical performance.

Anonymous said...

Is this the Third Way?

Against tuition fees, then introduce them;
Legislate to make party funding more transparent then circumvent the law;
Promote more open and transparent government then try to neuter it.

There's more, but what next I wonder?

Anonymous said...

I think you should start your own opposition party, Iain. I'll join.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

Deputy Speakers don't accept closure votes, Iain, they accept closure motions.

Iain Dale said...

Thank you for the clarification!

Anonymous said...

Iain - would you a) care to post the names of the "little-known junta of old schemers" who are the House of Commons Commission?

b) care to clarify whether the Speaker was in fact in the chair when any of the decisions on closure motions you are complaining about took place?

If he wasn't in the Chair today, what do you claim is his role in the affair?

Anonymous said...

I should have thought it would be possible for their Lordships to seciure at least one of the amendments that the Lib Dems were pressing today.

Anonymous said...

Saddo that I am I watched the whole debate on BBC Parliament. It seemed clear to me that the deputy speakers were clearly in cahoots with the supporters of this awful, nasty bill. A terrible day for Parliament. Thanks, Iain, for publishing that roll call of self-interested idiots.

Anonymous said...

Why is such an important vote taking place on a Friday for fuck's sake ?

Most MPs are on the train back to their constituents; which is the reason they are in Parliament after all !

Mind you, with a bit of luck, the Lords will ride to the rescue...

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11.42 -

It is a Private Members' Bill. Such bills are not introduced or promoted by the Government, and they are given priority over Commons time only on ten Fridays a year. On these Fridays, the parties do not whip their MPs (as Government business is not involved), and so MPs are free to travel back to their constituencies - or to stay at Westminster to vote on legislation proposed by other MPs.

Anonymous said...

If people want to contact David Maclean MP, whose disgusting bill this is, there is a webpage with all his contact details on,

His email address is

Anonymous said...


Please use your best endevours to arrange for this Bill to be withdrawn. It matters not who voted for or agin, what matters is that it is anti-democratic. The disgraceful support of Labour members cannot deny the fact that it was a piece of, albeit independent, Tory legislation.

It is, as you have rightly said, shit. Mainly because it takes us back to days when we knew who our betters were. And it undermines trust between electors and parliament.

I am disgusted that a Tory would have consdered this as germane legislation. Is David Maclean a complete idiot?

Anonymous said...

Not sure Derek Vara and Shailesh Ward is in your list, but I'll put it down to over exuberant cut and pasting.

Nonetheless you're right about the whole affair. The closure votes went ahead with the support of the frontbenchers but then others vited the bill through.

Anonymous said...


I have written to Mr McLean in the following terms:

"Dear David,

This is the most ridiculously anti democratic measure imaginable. What you are advocating, in effect, is that elected representatives should be given carte blanche. Please consider how this looks from the point of view of a citizen. Presumeably you are a democrat first and foremost. And not a Roman Senator.

If this is not withdrawn, I shall investigate the possibilities of getting a horse to stand against you at your next election."

Anonymous said...

Iain, if expenses is the real problem here then what we need is to stop the mass hysteria against MPs when the figures are published.

Most of the expenses are that. Costs incurred while doing the job. Not extra pay. Not money going to the MP personally.

Even taking the highest and most costly MP in this way I think it works out at something like £3 per constitutant per year. I think that is cost effective democracy.

Anonymous said...

Gorbals mick has been a significant force in reducing parliamentary accountability. He allows comments like "our position on torture is clear" from Bliar when he knows full well it was a deliberate lie to avoid a straight question from ming campbell and yet castigates anyone who questions an MP's integrity!

Cameron should just come out and say that ALL Tory MP's will not be bound by the new bill and ask Gordo to do the same. How it was ever allowed to be sponsonsored by a Tory in the first ploace is mystifying

Anonymous said...


There is a simple solution to this. (Scroll down if necessary)

Anonymous said...

Let's start a campaign to deselect all those Tories who voted for this appalling exemption. I will be discussing it with party members in my constituency and elsewhere in Cheshire.

What Labour party members do about their anti-democratic rabble is their business.

Not a sheep said...

I think your list of those voting against this disgusting measure might be a little cock-eyed vis-a-vis the forename/surname combinations. For a corrected list, see - Norman Baker (Lib Dem), Paul Burstow (Lib Dem), Mr. Vincent Cable (Lib Dem), Dr. James Clappison (Con), Jeremy Corbyn (Lab), Jim Cousins (Lab), Tim Farron (Lib Dem), Mark Fisher (Lab), Julia Goldsworthy (Lib Dem), Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem), David Heath (Lib Dem), David Howarth (Lib Dem), Simon Hughes (Lib Dem), Glenda Jackson (Lab), Martin Linton (Lab), Fiona Mactaggart (Lab), Lembit Öpik (Lib Dem), John Redwood (Con), Alan Reid (Lib Dem), Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem), Barry Sheerman (Lab/Co-Op), Richard Shepherd (Con), Sir Peter Soulsby (Lab), Jo Swinson (Lib Dem), Hywel Williams (PC), Stephen Williams (Lib Dem), David Winnick (Lab). Tellers for the Noes: Lorely Burt (Lib Dem) and Roger Williams (Lib Dem).

Anonymous said...

The honest MPs should go ahead and publish their expenses and those who refuse should be seen for what they are.

Anonymous said...

Bloody disgraceful!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Conservative activists here in Bournemouth, Boscombe, and Poole are furious and will be demanding answers I can assure you all of that.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8.21 - not an MP yourself, by any chance? You're very charitable about their expenses, if you are not. Just as an example, the "staying away from home" allowance (aka buy yourself a second home at the taxpayers' expense).

Without any particular Party bias, Ann Keen and Alan Keen are husband and wife with neighbouring constitencies. Presumably as they are married they share the same (two) properties. The total allowable claim for one MP is £21,634. She claimed £15,794 and he claimed £14,494, a total of £30,298 for the Keen family finances.
Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls - married, neighbouring constitencies etc. She claimed £14,234, he claimed £13,618, totalling £27,912.
Nicholas and Ann Winterton - she claimed £17,765 and he claimed £13,470, totalling £31,235.
Margaret Beckett - lives free at Admiralty House/Foreign Sec's residence, whatever, claimed £21,415 - for what "additional cost" exactly?

I used to work for an establishment which at that time paid a housing allowance under certain circumstances. There was a maximum sum payable for 1 person. If 2 employees were married, they could each have half the maximum - they couldn't both claim it as it wouldn't have been fair - and it was taxpayers' money.

One rule for them............

Anonymous said...

This seems both a cynical and stupid measure.

The media will be itching to press-and-test to see what happens when (if) this comes into force, with plenty of stories about FoI whitewashes and accompanying leaks of the facts.

Anonymous said...


Anon 8:21 has a small point inasmuch as when the figures are published the press take the whole package, which includes salaries for staff and office supplies as free money - they are not, they are ring fenced. Nevertheless within the salary system there is huge scope for abuse.

What I would take a very close look at is 'living expenses', particularly for two MPs who are married to each other and take a close look at the salaries and to whom they are paid. The salary system is hugely abused - there are wives and family members on the payroll who do not do the work comensurate with their salary. There are regional caseworkers (who according to the guidance published should be getting £20,000pa max and are being paid twice that because they are the relation of the MP. Yet, year after year, the cost of living rises are not passed onto staff.

I would take another another close look at MPs with outside intersts and make damn sure that not one bit of Parliamentary paper, postage and manpower is used in relations to those interests whether they be business interests, literary interests etc.

I implore the press to investigate this now before this wretched law comes into effect.

Anonymous said...

Look forward now to other outfits queuing up for exemption from FoI as "experience has shown that in practice ... blah blah blah blah blah."


Anonymous said...

who were the only three Tory MPs to vote in the No lobby

Philip Hollobone, too. I'm no fan of his, but full marks to him here.

Unknown said...

This whole thing is sheer madness! How can any politician stand up and effectively say "I believe in openness and transparency so long as it dosen't apply to me."?

I wrote a bit on this topic as well, and compared it with the public outlash to the state legislature in Pennsylvania, USA when some politicians there similarly tried to suggest that the laws shouldn't apply to them.

Hopefully, the Lords will get rid of this mess...

Anonymous said...

macclesfield tory said...

Let's start a campaign to deselect all those Tories who voted for this appalling exemption.

Good idea, all MP's who voted to put themselves above the law, thereby undermining democracy should be sacked. Those who didn't vote, including Cameron, should be booted out too. They disgust me.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

As a District Councillor I find the arguments in this debate un-explainable.
I receive correspondence from constituents, and lets remember the Information Commissioner can find no evidence of any personal correspondence being released under the FOI Act, yet the MP do not consider that I need exemption?

Anonymous said...

Broon set this bill as a trap for Cameron and the Conservatives and they walked into the jaws of it like lambs to the slaughter.

This isn't going to damage nulab's support is it? They hardly have any left and nulab diehard supporters have swallowed so much sleaze, why would a bit more affect their loyalties or rabid self interest?

However the Conservative's mixture of sleazy support for, or refusal to vote against, this bill will do them massive damage.

Stupid fools.

Auntie Flo'

Andrew Percy said...

You have Ian Cawsey down as supporting the bill yet the BBC does not - do you knwo whether he did or not?