Tuesday, January 09, 2007

DWP Minister admits existence of traffic light system for PQs

Back in December, some people may remember about a Civil Service whistleblower at the Department of Work and Pensions who talked about a "traffic light system" for Parliamentary questions. Since then there have been a vast number of question asked in Parliament, by MPs from different parties, about whether each department is also operating this traffic-light system in order to avoid answering politically sensitive questions.

A quick perusal of Hansard will show you that on every occasion that the Government has been asked about this it has flatly denied any such "traffic light system" exists anywhere. However, it appears that line has suddenly changed. In response to a Work and Pensions question on the subject, Anne McGuire MP, the Work and Pensions minister said
"The Department began trialing in October of this year an informal colour-coding system to identify questions of which press office should be made aware, and for which Ministers wish separate media briefing to be developed.
A "separate media briefing to be developed"? Wouldn't it just be easier to say "we flag the ones that we need to spin"? It takes less time to type and is more honest.

I wonder if the Speaker plans to launch an investigation into how many times people from the DWP have denied the traffic light system's existence to Parliament in the last few weeks? It seems rather clearly that Parliament has been misled. The real question is by how many people and how times?

1 comment:

SimonW said...

I'm just waiting for the denial that the colour-coding system used is not a "traffic light system" because the colours used are not red, amber and green!