The Conservatives have been sent an email by mistake, which details a meeting taking place tomorrow organised by the Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman to discuss the Speaker's Statement to the House. Invited to the meeting are Jacqui Smith and Jack Straw, as well as Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell, Jill Pay, the Serjeant at Arms and the Parliamentary Clerk, Malcolm Jack and a representative from the Speaker's Office. Strangely the Tories and LibDems have not been invited.
The email was sent by mistake to the office of Shadow Cabinet member Philip Hammond. No doubt he will soon be arrested.
The email says that "the meeting will discuss considerations in advance of the Speakers (sic) statement on Police action and Parliament". It is perfectly proper for Harriet Harman to call a meeting to discuss the government's line on such a statement. Attached to the email is Harriet Harman's agenda for the meeting, which is clearly an attempt to influence what would be in the Speaker's statement.
What is improper is for Harriet Harman to call a meeting seeking to influence the content of that Statement by the Speaker, which is presumably what she is intending to do by inviting the Speaker's Office, the Parliamentary Clerk and Serjeant at Arms. If there is to be a meeting to discuss arrangements for the Speaker's statement then the Opposition parties have a right to influence the arrangements for that Statement.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve commented tonight: "This is a completely improper meeting convened by the government privately with the Commons authorities and senior civil servants to manage the Speaker's statement without representation from other parliamentarians. This is precisely the sort of leak that should make it into the public domain. We insist on being present at this meeting along with representatives from all political parties to discuss the issues on the agenda."
UPDATE: From the BBC Website...
A spokesman for Ms Harman said the meeting had "nothing to do with the contents" of the statement. "The content of the speaker's statement is entirely a matter for the speaker," he said.It's beyond parody, isn't it?
"The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the parliamentary business and handling of issues that arise from the fact that the speaker's statement and the Queen's Speech will be happening on the same day."