Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Ministerial Code and Brown

According to section 9.3 of the Ministerial Code, "Every effort should be made to avoid leaving significant announcements to the last day before recess". On July 22nd this year,just before recess, Gordon Brown published statements on the following subjects.
Special Advisers
Ministerial Travel 2007-08
Ministerial Gifts (2007-08)
Advisory Committee on Business Appointments
UK Visits 2007-08 Made by the Prime Minister
Official Hospitality (Chequers)
Official and Charity Receptions: 10 Downing Street
Council of Europe and Western European Union
Security (Annual Reports)
National Security Strategy
When he was asked in writing by Norman Baker what steps he took to ensure that the ministerial code had not been breached, his response was simply,

The information was published when it was ready
I shall now be blunt and say in some of these cases that is patently bollocks. Take for example the official hospitality at Chequers, or charity receptions at Number 10.

On numerous occasions over the past year questions have been asked about this and each time, anmswering has been avoided. When I have posted about this in the past I have asked the same question, how difficult is it to look at a diary?

Now I'm not saying Brown has breached the ministerial code, but the fact is, much of the information published as been asked for by a number of MPs over the last year for specifc periods and the answer has always been that it will published as a full list later sometime.

That doesn't sound like every effort is being made to avoid dumping stuff on people when they all go holiday now does it? The dismissive tone of the answer as well, and the idea that the information was not "ready" at earlier times when it had been asked for seems to me like nonsense.

To be totally fair, Blair used to do this too, and don't expect it to change whoever is in Number 10 and whatever party they are leading.

5 comments:

Mostly Ordinary said...

That doesn't sound like every effort is being made to avoid dumping stuff on people when they all go holiday now does it?

But they aren't going on holiday are they, Parliament in recess and MPs on holiday isn't the same - or so they tell us.

I'm not into defending any of them from both parties because I believe they are equally deceptive.

MPs can still contact the relevant departments etc.

Let's be honest when the Tories get in power they'll do the same thing.

dizzy said...

Personally I just think this another example, ongoing in fact, of taking the rules and stretching them as far as possible. I recall this happened last time as well when they rushed out lots of statements just before recess.

Beyond New Labour said...

Ministerial Travel 2007-08
Ministerial Gifts (2007-08)
UK Visits 2007-08 Made by the Prime Minister
Official Hospitality (Chequers)
Official and Charity Receptions: 10 Downing Street

How can you consider these to be significant announcements? I would have thought this is exactly the time this nonsense should be released.

Surely you know these will be released on the same day every year and can look out for them then.

Anonymous said...

The recess is scandalously long. I don't see why they have to have one at all; businesses don't close down for two months in the summer. They should abolish the recess and the House should be in session 10-10 Monday to Thursday and 10-4 on Friday, 51 weeks of the year. MPs seem to be able to go away on so-called fact-finding missions whenever it suits them, so presumably they are free to go on holiday whenever they like too. They haven't all got school-age kids*, so they would not all be away at the same time. Constituency surgeries could be arranged on alternate Saturdays, the only days when most of us would be free to see our MPs anyway - or they could spend an occasional week at a time there.

*I don't see why schools should close for two months either. It's not as if kids are all needed to help with the harvest.

Lola said...

Deceit is the defining characteristic of the Blair/Brown years. It's the only way they could 'sell' New Liebour to the public. Why are you surprised that they can't stop it?