Far be from me to dig Tom Watson out of the hole he’s created for himself by falling into the trap of defending the indefensible, i.e. David MacLean’s Freedom from Accountability Bill, but if anyone should be leading the charge in criticising those MPs whose votes saw the abominable thing through its third reading (at the second time of asking) it sure as hell ain’t Iain Dale.
What’s the beef with Dale this time? More or less the same one as usual – hypocrisy and bandwagon-jumping.
It’s all very well coming over all Mr ‘More Accountable Than Thou’ when there’s an opportunity to put Labour MPs in the frame for supporting a bad piece of Private Member’s legislation introduced by an Ex Tory Whip, but if you’re going to run with that kind of line you might at least make some effort to establish a bit of credibility first. Other bloggers have been on top of this bill since January, while Dale has said precisely fuck all up until last Friday despite being asked twice in comments on his own blog to comment on the proposed legislation:
and why would a Tory MP want to put the FOI gag on MP’s correspondence.
Freedom of Information Bill – 2nd reading
The following private members bill will have its 2nd reading in the HoC on the 19th January.
Freedom of Information (amendment)
David Maclean presented a Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to exempt from its provisions the House of Commons and House of Lords and correspondence between Members of Parliament and public authorities: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 19 January, and to be printed. [Bill 39]
January 15, 2007 2:05 PM
To which Iain replied…
And then about three weeks later…
A similar exemption for MPs for another Act is going through Parliament right now.
The Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill is going through the house very very quickly.
The Bill was brought by David Maclean (Con) with the SOLE purpose of exempting MPs’ Correspondence and other Commons matters from public access rights to official documents given under the original Freedom of Information Act.
The 2nd reading went through the Commons 3 weeks ago totally on the nod. When the speaker proposed it and said “all those agreeing say aye” and “all those agree say “no” – NOBODY said “no” – a unique occurrence in the history of the Commons. No debate therefore had to occur (there was no time allocated if ANY MP had objected and the Bill would have been killed by timing it out.
On Wednesday, the Bill spent only 55 minutes being discussed at the Committee stage. Again an unprecedented short time.
MPs have therefore played fast and loose in pushing through a Bill that exempts them from a law that they have imposed on the rest of the government sector.
I’m not sure why MPs feel they have earned this exemption, and why they feel entitled to it without proper debate in the house.
February 10, 2007 12:14 AM
And Iain’s response was…
Yep, fuck all again.
Dale thinks that You Either Believe in Freedom of Information Or You Don’t – well if you do then, like plenty of other bloggers, you speak up about shitty pieces on legislation like MacLean’s Bill right from the point you become aware of them, you don’t sit back and say fuck all until you can find the ‘right’ kind of political mileage to run with – that’s not believing in FOIA, that’s just opportunism.