Friday, December 01, 2006

Disproportionate to what exactly?

Following on from yesterday's post regarding the Treasury's seeming inability to keep accounting records for pretty mundane things, I've had a quick search through the written answers in Parliament for yesterday.

A total of 11 questions were not answered on the basis that it would be a "disproportionate cost" to do so. This has thus got me wondering what exactly is defined as disproportionate? It suggests there is a cost bar in place by the Government which they measure time taken to respond to question against.

This said, there were a couple of times when the questions asked were of such minute detail and nuance that whilst answering them may have been costly, the practicality of doing so was unlikely anyway. However, there were some which simply should've been answered.

For example, asking how much the Treasury paid to DHL between 1997 and 2006 for each financial year is something that ought to be known and be easily accessible. Also, the Treasury should be able to tell Parliament how much of the publics' money it used on staff expenses for special advisers in each of the last three financial years.

I wonder though if someone might ask how exactly an answer is deemed to cost a "disproportionate" amount to answer?


Anonymous said...

You'll probably find that if you ask that question, it won't get answered because the cost of that answer would also be disproportionate.

Anonymous said...

Following on from The Last Boy Scout, an MP should ask the Treasury (the 'safest home for my money')for the exact thresholds for 'disproportionate cost' for each government department (nominally all government departments are under its financial supervision). Hopefully, the stock answer will be given (infeasible since the answer can only be provided at disproportionate cost) which should highlight how ridiculous the situation is. - Sorry if I've posted this twice!

Anonymous said...

Could we see a time when the opposition has to stand at the despatch box and offer to pay for the relevant answer.
Maybe Gordon Brown is already thinking of a way to create future revenue in the treasury by introducing a "tax" on open and honest government.
How about a new "buzz" phrase, "I could tell you the answer but it will cost you"